Will this turn into a problem?????

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by rockyhill, Dec 2, 2003.

  1. rockyhill

    rockyhill Member

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    I was wondering if anyone had any dealings with this type of thing. We live out in the country and we have a wondeful well that was dug about three years ago. And now some people in our part of the county are putting in a water line for city water. We do not want this because we have great water. But now they want us to sign a paper giving them 25 feet of our land so that they can put it through our place any where they want to and from now on. Do we have to sign this? We are worried that sooner or later they may say that we have to use that type of water. And we do not want to pay a monthly payment for water when we do not need to. Thanks for any advice
    Regina & family
     
  2. Sedition

    Sedition Well-Known Member

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    That is called an easement.

    As for whether you have to sign or not, that depends on how cozy your are with your zoning board and state laws.

    Personally, I never give anything I own away. And I definitely never give anybody else carte blanche to come across my property with an easement.

    Hate to say it, but you are going to need a lawyer. Only a local JD will be able to tell you what kind of rights you have in this situation.

    Odds are, you are going to have to allow the easement. It is generally against the law to “block development” by owning land in a specific place. But that doesn’t mean that you have to roll over and give it away for free. You are allowed un the Constitution to get fair value for your land, time, and aggravation.

    This is what I would have my lawyer ask for. 1) a 30-year land lease, never a sale of the easement. After 30 years, the land returns to your ownership. $100 a year is a reasonable lease fee. 2) a shut-off valve at both ends of your property line, “to prevent contamination” of your land in case of a problem with the system. 3) They must file a plan with you on exactly where the line will cross your property, and put money up-front for repairing fences, resodding, and tree and landscape damage. Depending on where the line crosses, this could be a substantial sum.

    Asking for this might get you a court case, but you are within your legal rights. You can easily hold up development of an adjoining parcel for years with a court case. Typically, developers will simply pay you off instead of fighting in the court system.
     

  3. CraftyDiva

    CraftyDiva Is anybody here?

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  4. rockyhill

    rockyhill Member

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    Thanks for the ideas Sedition. In the contract they gave us, the paper said in the sum of $1.00 we would give them a 25 foot wide easement all along our land and the way our land lays it would be in the front yard. We live on a dirt road 20 miles from the nearest town.
    I just worry that they will charge us anyway or tell us we can't use our well some day down the road.
     
  5. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    You need to extract from them any and all concessions that are within your legal rights. If you, donot , make them aware that you are a knowledgeable landowner they will just let you suffer from your own ignorance , i.e. they Will not offer any concession(s) in return for signature on the contract. IF, you own any Mineral Rights under your properety.......make sure that these rights DONOT transfer over to the water company under the easement. Personally , I would not allow them to dig close to my home. Make them moveout a hundred feet or so. ANY easement that is that close to your home will surely reduce the market value by some amount. There are alot considerations here other than just the physical location of the pipeline. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney would seem to be a given here otherwise you could get the short end of the stick. Good luck , ........fordy :eek:
     
  6. Surveyorwill

    Surveyorwill Active Member

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    I agree with Sedition, don’t just let them have it for nothing. Exactly who is it that is trying to get you to sign this? Is it a private party, developer, water department, or a government agency? If it is a developer or private party, they are most likely trying to pull a fast one to get something for nothing. A water department or governing public works department could just be following protocol. If you refuse to sign and release your property and it does go to court that is what is called an emanate domain action. Where the other party most prove it is in the best interest of the people (meaning the majority) to install this waterline across you property and that there is nowhere else it can go. Emanate domain is there for the betterment of the people, not to allow someone to just take what they want so use the system don’t let them abuse it.

    I just wrote some descriptions for an easement for a sewer line for one of the local counties. I could not believe what some of the landowners allowed the county to do. In many cases, the sewer line bisected their land at an angle and the county is restricting the use of the land from now on. So make sure if it does become an emanate domain issue that it is in everyone’s best interest.
     
  7. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    You probably won't be able to dictate the terms of the easement - ie. insist on a land lease, etc. But depending upon the eminent domain laws of your state, I don't think you don't have to except their offer of $1. Most states have laws that say easements, right-of-way, etc. must be conveyed at market value. Here in Texas, for example, underground utility easements are valued and conveyed at a rate typically between 50% and 90% of the contributory value of the land subject to the easement area. For instance, if the land is worth $5,000 per acre, and they want 1 acre, they will have to pay the owner between $2500 and $4500 for the easement rights. The property owner retains fee title to the land. Of course, you won't be able to build over the easement, but can typically use it as open space, landscaping, limited cultivation uses, etc. I have no idea where you are, or what the laws and customs in your location dictate, but it sounds as if you are getting low-balled in their offer. A quick phone call to a local lawyer or appraiser familiar with eminent domain will be well worth it.
     
  8. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    If it's a public utility, local water district, co-op, etc. they can probably get a right of way from you, at no cost...all for the public good, with powers of eminent domain. You should be able to talk to the engineer and find out where they want the water line, explain what you want, and work it out. It's never a bad thing having community water on the border of your property. Think of it as insurance for yourself in case of well troubles, and a good selling point in case you ever decide to sell.

    If it's a private, for profit group, you have some bargaining points. I have public utilities crossing my place, and I'm "S.O.L." as far as any kind of rights. I have Private r.o.w.'s and I extract payments every time they disturb a blade of grass. This summer, I got $7500, or $6/ft. for a temporary easement. They used an existing road for a month, intermittently since, and it looks like the terms of the easement will kick in soon, if they abandon the gas well they were working on, they lose the temp. easement forever.

    I seriously doubt whether they can force you to abandon your well, and make you start using the community water. I would insist on in the future, should you decide to hook up to the water (you never can tell???) that you be allowed to hook up for free, with a free meter, in exchange for them crossing your land.

    Talk to neighbors, see what the overall situation is...may not be worth talking to an attorney, if there putting in a region wide water system. Just try and tie down the exact area the line would be installed. Usually, they want it close to the main road. Good luck.
     
  9. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but this information is incorrect. Public utilities, water districts, cities, counties, states and even the federal government must PAY for easements at fair market value, unless there is an equal benefit or increase in market value to the affected property. And enhancement is VERY hard to prove and usually not bothered with by the typical appraiser valuing the easements.

    In addition to purchasing the easement at market value, the utility co., condemning authority, etc. must also pay for any damages to the remainder after the taking. For example, if the easement bisects your property in a way that makes typical development impossible or prohibitive, or takes valuable landscaping, fencing, etc., the land owner must be compensated for damages or dimunition in value to the remaining property.
     
  10. NRS Farm

    NRS Farm Well-Known Member

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    We had a utility company ask for a similar easement to a pasture of ours. They wanted to have access at any time (so much for fencing in the pasture). They would have the right to cut down any trees in the easement without our say. They would have the right to dig at any time in the easement without prior warning. etc. etc. We said no. They found another way to get around us. Never heard back from them since.
     
  11. You can fence it, but you would have to put in gates.
     
  12. NRS Farm

    NRS Farm Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that is true. But they also wanted to have the animals (cattle) out of the area when they come...they seemed to be afraid of an animal attack on their employees. I was concerned about them closing things back up when they entered and left as well. Either way my recommendation is to avoid it if possible...and if you can't to probably consult an attorney.
     
  13. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I can only speak for regulations in Alberta and I do know they vary from place to place but I would suggest that compensation regulations are not much different. Negotiate for a fair value on the land and you can always insist that the contract includes a clause that states you will not be required to use their services. Unregistered, the same would apply to the livestock. When the contract was signed, did someone agree that no livestock would be in the pasture? I doubt it and you are legally allowed to use the land as it is intended. They should be able to do their inspections and such without bothering your livestock and unless there is immediate danger to the animals (falling in trenches or something of that nature) you shouldn't have to move them. If there is danger to the animals, they should give you 48 hours to move them and you should be compensated for any feed that might be involved with pennning them up for a couple days. Don't sign the contract without reading it, you're legally allowed 24 - 48 hours to read it without pressure to sign. Take that time to find out who is presenting you with this document. Find out if the guy carrying the contract is a realtor or a landman and then find out what government agency governs that sector of the industry and from there you can figure out what rights you have. Check with a realtor in your area and find out what exact land value is and then you can realistically figure out what the value of the land is worth. After the line is in, you should expect some compensation for loss of crop or grass for a year or two and you will regain use of the land. You want to make sure that there is no sinking of their line and if there is, they are obligated to return it to it's original state. I would do a google seach and find the International Right of Way Association (IRWA) it is the brotherhood of landmen and they should be able to give you enough information to figure out how to access regulations governing such things in your area. Don't sign anything till you are sure you know what you're getting into and do understand that you can have clauses added that will ease the affect on you and your land. If you are being pressured to just sign, you can report the guy with the contract for failing to do his job properly and he/she will be dealt with accordingly. They can be fined or have their license revoked depending on the severity and amount of times they have behaved improperly. Good luck and if I can be of any further help, feel free to send me a pm.
     
  14. gccrook

    gccrook Well-Known Member

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    I have not posted here before, but since this happened to me, I will just add my 2 cents. We were given a similar contract offering one dollar, and a free hookup to the rural water, which I did not want. The area they wanted had all of my best trees (mature) and I said no way. There was nothing across the road from em, so I told them to go that way. They came inperson to try to persuade me, but I finally convinced them to go across the road. You are not required to give them easement without compensation unless you just feel generous. The free hookup would have compensated me fairly well, but I was not interested. Don't given in to pressure tactics unless you are not given any other alternative by a court.
     
  15. Kenneth in NC

    Kenneth in NC Well-Known Member

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    Don't do it. Seek legal help. My BIL let the !@#$%^& put in water for the "community good". 121 days afterward he received a letter telling him that he would either "hook" into the system via the "FREE" hook up offered him OR ELSE. The town started sending water bills based on Expected usage. They have had trucks and equipment crossing his property at all hours of the night. Disrupting his animals and children. All in all it was a bad outcome.
     
  16. rockyhill

    rockyhill Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. We had not even thought about alot of this stuff. I sure am glad that I posted this topic because I'm afraid we might have ended up making a big blunder.
     
  17. Lorcalon

    Lorcalon Guest

    "The town started sending water bills based on Expected usage."

    This type of thing was mentioned a few times on this thread but what can they really do to you? Can they really charge you for a service that you don't use? And even if they can what are the actual consequences of not paying them? Its not like they can turn off a utility that you don't even have hooked up to your house. Maybe I'm getting confused between the utility companies and the city, township, whatever. I've always lived in a city so this is an issue about which I'm ignorant.

    Just Wondering,
    L.Z.
     
  18. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    Most municipalities condemn all wells in an area when municipal water lines are run. No water tap, no electricity approval here. You might be able to fight it, unless the folks on either side of you both want it. Odds are you either let them lay the line or you get busted. On the bright side , maybe the water dept in your area and is like ours and uses low profile trenching equipment. Our utilities realize that their easement is for running a line through and avoid tearing up the easement zone any more than necessary. Another plus is with munipal water and a well, you have a dual redundant water supply. Good luck, your gonna need it.
     
  19. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    same happening to me.... youll drink the state ware and pay for it and like it. or youll lnever get a moments rest.
    give an inch they will take 2 miles... they offer 1 buck, you counter offer 25,000 bucks.
    make em sweat.
     
  20. dale

    dale Well-Known Member

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    Now no one hollar at me or be mean to me please......
    As the mayor of this town we have recently put in some lines. Our engineers first drew up some blueprints where the lines would go thru the homeowners back yards. We asked him to look at going out of the yards into the edge ofthe peoples fields.... then the city (me and our main employee) went to get the people to sign the easements. Most did because it benifited them and they was glad to.. There was a couple that didnt want to.. .we talked to them and they did but we had to give them fair market value for there property that we used.

    If you do I would reconmend to do as we did Take Pictures before they start.. Take pictures during.. then take pictures afterwards.. Make sure that in the contract It says that they will restore the yard, pasture, road, whatever as it was before they started. If they want to change things during and you agree then get that also in writing and take pictures.

    We used Contractors and we are holding 10% of there money till all is happy with what is done...

    So I believe they will have to have your land appraised and give you fair market value.. I would check out the appraiser to find out if they work for the Water people or if they are indipentant. Get there name and check them out if your not happy and want to hire your own.

    dale