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Schweb's Lounge Forum for general conversation, chit chat, or most topics that don't fit in another forum.

Anyone know anything about Public Utility right of way on private property?


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cwa107

 
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Question for those of you that know something about private property rights...

Verizon is coming through the neighborhood, rolling out FTTP (fiber-optic to the premises, AKA "FIOS"). Apparently my front yard was the primary work zone yesterday. I came home to find a flower/mulch bed dug up and some shrubs displaced. In their place was a 6' tall piece of orange plastic conduit sticking straight up into the air and 3 other very large holes.

No biggie, the contractor did leave a note saying that they would clean up after finishing.

Sure enough, I came home today to find the holes patched with sod, shrubs replanted (albeit missing mulch) and a rather strange oddity... a box planted in my front lawn.

I know planting a box with an exposed top is common practice for this type of install, but usually it's placed in the right-of-way (the area between the sidewalk and the street). But in this case, it is in the corner of my front lawn and well inside the property line. I find this irritating because there is an drainage basin easement next to my property on that side that this could have easily been planted in, had it been moved just a few feet. Or they could have routed the cable under the sidewalk and planted it where it's supposed to go, in the right of way.

So, here's my question... am I within my rights to demand that the contractor move it? I think they have 'eminent domain' rights to go onto my property, but I didn't think they could leave something exposed like that without my permission. Additionally, if I ask them to move it and they refused, could I be held liable for damages if I relocate their box to the street on my own? It is my property after all and it's not like they asked.

Just curious if anyone has any experience in this area. It truly ticks me off that even with some of the highest property taxes in the state, these jokers have any right to walk onto my property, damage landscaping and can do it even though I'm not a customer of Verizon.

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Not much, but their right of way should be listed on your deed and shown on the survey.

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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobtomay View Post
Not much, but their right of way should be listed on your deed and shown on the survey.
Interesting. I'll have to take a look and see what it says.

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pigoo3

 
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I am certainly no expert on the legal matters involved & of course laws will vary from community to community...but I have always heard that from the edge of the road or curbing in front of a house...somewhere around 6-8 feet inward is considered "public domain"...especially for the use of future widening of the road or the installation of sidewalks if they don't already exist.

It also just so happens that a fairly major "neighborhood/residential" type road in my area (about 2 miles in length) is being torn up to replace the:

- water & sewer mains
- install newer storm sewer piping & inlets
- new fire hydrants
- new water hookups to each of the homes that border this road
- new curbing
- and then the road will be resurfaced

A really really major disruption in my neighborhood!

In any case...the old sewer lines & water mains do not exactly follow the path of the road...and sometimes seem to have been originally installed right in the middle of some homes front yards...maybe 15-20 feet or more from the road...and these folks front yards are all torn up.

Also...since new curbing & sidewalks are being put in (where no sidewalks were before)...many majorly large well established tress in peoples front yards are just being cut down to make room for the improvements.

So long story short...all of these activities unfortunately would seem to fall under "public domain" in one way or another...regardless of the amount of disruption, inconvenience, and changes (like the removal of homeowner landscaping...even 50+ year-old trees)!

- Nick

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cwa107

 
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Thanks for the comment, Pigoo. I don't think I'd be as irritated had this not been done out of sheer laziness, and also if it was an essential utility like water/sewer/gas/electric, etc. Unfortunately, this is Verizon, who I'm not even a customer of (at least not for landlines). I also find it irritating that these boxes are typically planted in the small area between the sidewalk and the street, but somehow found its way into my front lawn, which has been carefully manicured and maintained by yours truly. So, now instead of feeling lush grass between my toes when I walk on it, I get to step on a hard, hollow box that has no business being there.

It would be very unfortunate if some night at about 3am, there was a sudden, violent, localized "earthquake" that somehow managed to displace the box into the middle of the street, while simulateously filling the hole with Quickcrete, covered by a few inches of earth and some grass seed.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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In any case, shoulnt have the CONTRACTOR or Version sent you a letter informing you of the impeding work, to be taken on in your area (property). There would have to be some legalities on your side in that situation.

Here where i live we would get a letter from Big company ( Version) and the contractor weeks before the work being carried out, with the option to call either if we had any worries about what was going on with the option to make a alternate arrangements...

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tattooedmac View Post
In any case, shoulnt have the CONTRACTOR or Version sent you a letter informing you of the impeding work, to be taken on in your area (property). There would have to be some legalities on your side in that situation.

Here where i live we would get a letter from Big company ( Version) and the contractor weeks before the work being carried out, with the option to call either if we had any worries about what was going on with the option to make a alternate arrangements...
They left a door tag just a day or two before they started work with contact information and an explanation that there would be some digging and that they would patch up any damage with seed/hay. Like I said, I will be contacting them tomorrow to ask that the box be moved and also to find out how I go about getting reimbursed for repair to the landscaping. Call me a worry wort (I am particular about my home and my property), but I guess I want to have a leg to stand on before I start...ahem...asserting myself.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
Thanks for the comment, Pigoo. I don't think I'd be as irritated had this not been done out of sheer laziness, and also if it was an essential utility like water/sewer/gas/electric, etc. Unfortunately, this is Verizon, who I'm not even a customer of (at least not for landlines). I also find it irritating that these boxes are typically planted in the small area between the sidewalk and the street, but somehow found its way into my front lawn, which has been carefully manicured and maintained by yours truly.
Yes that does sound unnecessary. They probably figure by putting it more in your yard...it is less likely to get damaged by pedestrians or car doors than if it were located more closely to the sidewalk or curb.

I can visualize exactly what you are faced with. On my street we have no telephone poles...everything is underground (electricity, cable, phone, etc.)...and we have those "posts" every so often in folks lawns for the cable TV & phone guys to do their "managing" of these utilities.

Most folks have gotten creative with landscaping (bush's, small trees, flower beds) to hide or camouflage the "eye-sore"!

See you at the Home Depot purchasing those bush's,

- Nick

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
I will be contacting them tomorrow to ask that the box be moved and also to find out how I go about getting reimbursed for repair to the landscaping. Call me a worry wort (I am particular about my home and my property), but I guess I want to have a leg to stand on before I start...ahem...asserting myself.
Mate cant see you as a worry wort. Personal property is yours and its not only the $ value that you have seen destroyed, but the hard work and who is to say sentimental value.. meaning ( dogs ashes under your fav rose bush ) for arguments sake.

Im with you on asking for some sort of reimbursement for the trouble they have caused.
Good luck in your venture and keep us posted .....

Let the little guy win one

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Pigoo3 had it right. Its like 6-8 feet. Any thing you put out there they can remove.When they put in new gas lines here that gaint boring machine was in my front yard. It had tank treads on it. They kinda fixed the grass...Im still working on the holes.
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Eminent Domain does not apply to private contractors such as Verizon. Your municipality may have that (not all of them do, btw) but that certainly should not extend to private businesses or you could (in theory) end up with a dozen boxes on your lawn.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why they thought this would be acceptable unless someone was a real idiot when it came to lot lines and public access. That easement (ours is 10') is exactly what that is to be used for. Certainly not my yard for a phone companies convenience!
Good luck getting this sorted out but you might have luck contacting your city officials first. If you have aldermen in your town there is a great place to start! City Hall also comes to mind.
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Well, I spoke with the foreman this morning. He claims that it couldn't be put in "the beauty box" (his term for what I consider to be the 'right of way') because of gas lines. I told him that it should have been planted 6 feet over, across the property line (and onto the drainage easement) and then it wouldn't be on my property at all. His terse response was "we'll see what we can do". I told him, "you have 48 hours to move it before I do". I think that left him a little stunned, but I wasn't about to argue - just walked away.

Anyway, here's some images for those of you interested:




Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Thanks for the photos...for some reason I was imagining a post. Hopefully you will have some luck getting it relocated.

- Nick

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
Thanks for the photos...for some reason I was imagining a post. Hopefully you will have some luck getting it relocated.

- Nick
I showed these to a coworker and good friend this morning. He called me the not-so-nice version of "wussy" when he saw it was sunken. Maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing and I should just get over it, but it's just gotten under my skin.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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That would get under my skin too. First and foremost because all you were given was a door tag. Nobody actually spoke with you and asked for permission to do this work. And even if they're in the right to do it because of domain laws, it would still be nice if these big companies didn't treat the small guy like dirt. After all, without the small fries, there would be no institutions to run. (cliche, I know)

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly... will they be liable for any damage or injury inflicted upon someone whom might trip and fall on that thing ? Someone could crack their skull on it. And were it not there otherwise, grass and earth (unless frozen) makes for a fairly soft impact. Think about children and such.

Doug

(though I suppose it could be covered with mulch etc.. )
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