Utilities & Roads
wars are probably the biggest hassle we've been through, and it
was all because of one family!
the rest of the story...
an extra heavy rain season washed out the only culvert over the
creek, one family decided that what the road association was
doing wasn't enough for them. They threatened to sue. That's
when legal council advised us to disband the road association
and we did.
couple of years later, when speeding became such an issue (just
guess who the worst offenders were??!!!), one family who had the
longest straight away installed speed bumps ... with the
approval of the majority of homeowners in residence (there are a
lot of vacant parcels here).
Well this now notorious family that
decided they didn't care about democratically made decisions,
brought in a tractor and scrapped them off.
Next, they decided
the trees along that portion of the road should be cut down
because they took some personal vendetta against the property
owners (remember, everything was done by majority vote).
the property owners were there the day the tree service came out
to start cutting and they were stopped (no one has the right to
remove anything on an easement across your property as long as
it doesn't impede their ingress and egress).
the next round of floods came, the property owners had to
install drainage ditches across the road to protect their
property. And again, guess who raised a stink (again, the
drainage ditches were approved by the majority of resident
make a long story short, these idiots (I'm loathe to say they
were proud that he was a "Professor" at one of the
local universities -- I kept wondering what kind of rotten
values he might be passing on to unsuspecting kids!) made the
whole thing end in court at a cost of about $3500 and we still
do not have a permanent resolution to the problem ... ugh.
we felt like we had to set a precedence or we'd just get trampled
by others of their ilk.
Ah.... my favorite subject! And one that cost us (the authors
of this site) over $3500 in legal fees recently... the roads.
you get to name your own roads out here like we did with Art
& Science. Ric is a fine artist who "paints with
pixels". It seemed appropriate.
It seems that many people who move here
don't understand what an
easement across a property allows them. Since none of us is a lawyer,
we've commissioned an area attorney to address these
But before he gets to the legal stuff, we'll clue you in
on a few things as well. Speeding on our private roads has been such an
issue, that we (this "we" will be addressed in a moment) have
stopped maintaining the roads. When pot holes appear -- they stay. When
the ditches get clogged and make the water run across the road, we
ignore it. When the culvert gets clogged and causes the stream to flood
(it's pretty well washed out the road a couple of times) we,
unfortunately must clear it because it floods one of our properties as
well. When I say "unfortunately", I mean that we'd just as
soon let the road get worse... it keeps speeding neighbors and outsiders
moving at a reasonable pace.
Why, you might ask, are we so adamant about the speed
issue? Well there are several reasons:
one of the neighbor's dogs was hit by a speeding car
and it cost $1700 to get it's pelvis screwed back together.
one of their (same
neighbor) exotic pheasants they raised
to simply add a new "wonder" to the neighborhood for
everyone's enjoyment, was hit and killed
children play on their property with more abandon
because they're in the country
homes that are close to the roads get filled with
dust from speeding vehicles (if you can see dust behind you you're
going too fast)
the road gravel used originally to lay down on many
of these roads contains asbestos, a known carcinogen
cars speeding on dirt
roads cause more road damage, and no one seems to be willing to help
with the repairs
last but not least... it's just plain rude and
selfish. It doesn't take into account why the people who have
allowed the easement to cross their property, live in the country in
the first place, and I can guarantee you, it's not to be harassed by
people from the city who don't care!
That gets us back to the "we" I mentioned
earlier. Over the years we've found that there are only about four
households who help with road maintenance while all the others enjoy the
benefits of our hard work.
Because we're living on private roads, those who share
the easement are supposed to share in the burden of cost to keep them in
repair. You might wonder why we don't simply "donate them to the
county" so they will maintain them. Simply.. that defeats our
purpose. Not only would we have to bring them up to county code (a VERY
expensive prospect), but it would encourage speeders (because the roads
would be wider) and more traffic.
There used to be a "road association" here but
it was disbanded when we were threatened by a lawsuit and found that
each separate property owner who was part of the association could be
putting their own property in jeopardy. In other words, if we were sued
and lost, they could put a lien on each property until a judgment was
paid in full. Read the "road wars" story at the right
for more on this subject.
Now for the legalities from an area attorney.
Coming soon.... please check back for the attorney's
version, but for now, here's what we know... or think we know. Always
check with your own attorney before taking action, however.
If you have a road easement across your property,
easement holders have a right to pass ONLY!
They cannot alter or "improve" the road
without the property owners approval.
They cannot remove trees, shrubs or other vegetation
along the road.
They cannot use the entire easement (it may be wider
than the road itself to accommodate power, telephone lines, etc.)
but must confine themselves to the road.
Speeders can lose their rights to pass via a
restraining order. Document times of their passage, a description of
the driver, the license number, and how and when you notify them
they're in violation of the speed limit.
You can install speed bumps, ditches, gates, etc. to
control speeders, along as the easement holders can still pass. If
you install a gate, easement holders have to be able to pass
through, but you can leave it closed and make them open it each time
You should post speed limit signs at every entrance
to your private roads to cement your case.
If someone performs a repair or improvement on a
private road, they can be held liable if that repair or improvement
causes someone to get into an accident.
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