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Sugarfoot

Legal question about use of our yard...

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Our house and yard are on a large lot that backs up to a golf course. Recently, it's come to light that there is an illegal easement on our property, in the back corner of our yard. Everyone, meaning the city and the developers, agree on this. The development company in our neighborhood is planning to use this easement by directing water from a new apartment complex up the hill this direction. They have an elaborate plan in place to ensure that the water flows in this direction. I have no doubt that they're being guided by attorneys to use language such as "natural flow" and "increases rate but not volume," although then they'll say, "wait, I may have gotten that backward.":confused:

 

My question is, can they legally do this? I've been shocked at the absolute inability of our urban planning board to use simple logic and reason when deciding things, and they've already approved this development, knowing fully of this issue and several others. However, they obviously aren't in any position to decide a legal issue. We'll speak to our attorney and ask him to recommend a specialist, but I'm really feeling a sense of dread about what we're getting into.

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Consider whether your goal would be to prevent this from happening entirely, or to receive a payment in exchange for granting a temporary easement. You probably won't know more until you speak with your attorney.

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Get thee to a lawyer. You should be able to make them pay and have a legal agreement as to what they can and can't do with the property. You may be able to completely stop it altogether if you wish. But if you do nothing, you may lose your rights going forward.

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Do you mean this is their plan for drainage of the apartment property ? Is it permanent ? I would definitely look at getting a real estate attorney involved.

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Consider whether your goal would be to prevent this from happening entirely, or to receive a payment in exchange for granting a temporary easement. You probably won't know more until you speak with your attorney.

 

Get thee to a lawyer. You should be able to make them pay and have a legal agreement as to what they can and can't do with the property. You may be able to completely stop it altogether if you wish. But if you do nothing, you may lose your rights going forward.

 

Thank you both, I'm really just in shock about the whole thing. They are acting as though it's perfectly acceptable to use are yard in this way, as it's in the "natural flow of water," yet they're spending tens of thousands of dollars to ensure that this is where that water ends up. Ugh. Since when does a large system of pipes constitute a natural flow?:confused:

 

Do you mean this is their plan for drainage of the apartment property ? Is it permanent ? I would definitely look at getting a real estate attorney involved.

 

Yes, it would be permanent, and only the beginning. There are many more building projects proposed after this one. The developers are aiming to destroy every last bit of nature in our area. They were told that that the urban planning committee had major concerns about the water running west into an already overtaxed creek bed, which was their original plan and where the water would "naturally flow," hence their new design to direct it east and the discovery of the illegal easement in our yard, etc, etc. The whole thing is causing me major stress.

 

Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I appreciate it.

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Thank you both, I'm really just in shock about the whole thing. They are acting as though it's perfectly acceptable to use are yard in this way, as it's in the "natural flow of water," yet they're spending tens of thousands of dollars to ensure that this is where that water ends up. Ugh. Since when does a large system of pipes constitute a natural flow?:confused:

 

 

 

Yes, it would be permanent, and only the beginning. There are many more building projects proposed after this one. The developers are aiming to destroy every last bit of nature in our area. They were told that that the urban planning committee had major concerns about the water running west into an already overtaxed creek bed, which was their original plan and where the water would "naturally flow," hence their new design to direct it east and the discovery of the illegal easement in our yard, etc, etc. The whole thing is causing me major stress.

 

Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I appreciate it.

I know an attorney will cost money, but you need to do it. It sounds like this could lower your property values. How does this effect other neighbors? DO they want to fight it as well?

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Oh yes, seek some legal counsel. If there is a rational, reasonable minded environmental action group in your area, they may have an attorney on staff that can at least get you started or answer some questions.

 

I'm guessing the developers plan to just steamroll over you to accomplish their dirty work, so I wouldn't wait too long to act in this. Maybe you can at least get some type of temporary legal cease action something or other to allow you time to fully investigate your rights.

 

You say easement - on the platte of your property (diagram provided at closing marking the property boundaries and restrictions) is there any indication that any utility or government entity has use of an easement area? I'm just trying to clarify how you're using the term easement.

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I know an attorney will cost money, but you need to do it. It sounds like this could lower your property values. How does this effect other neighbors? DO they want to fight it as well?

 

The other neighbors don't want the apartments. There are major safety issues involving a blind intersection and an increase in traffic that our roads can't handle. We've sent letters, attended the meetings as a group, spoken out about the issues, etc., but the commission that approves things in our city has approved them at every step, regardless of everything we've done. Last night, they gave the developers permission to disregard a sidewalk that was necessary to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act because the developers claimed it was a financial hardship for them.:confused:

 

The easement issue, though, is something totally different. It's not only unethical, I can't imagine it's not also illegal. And I'm pretty sure they know it.

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One way to get some involvement might be to contact the ACLU. I doubt they would look highly upon the flippant disregard for the Americans with Disabilities Act and have no use for a city planning committe tht chooses to ignore the law. While some waivers can be legally given, usually sidewalks that accomodate wheelchairs is not one of the waivers given.

 

Once the ACLU becomes involved, it may heighten awareness of other legal indelicacies.

 

Faith

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Oh yes, seek some legal counsel. If there is a rational, reasonable minded environmental action group in your area, they may have an attorney on staff that can at least get you started or answer some questions.

 

I'm guessing the developers plan to just steamroll over you to accomplish their dirty work, so I wouldn't wait too long to act in this. Maybe you can at least get some type of temporary legal cease action something or other to allow you time to fully investigate your rights.

 

You say easement - on the platte of your property (diagram provided at closing marking the property boundaries and restrictions) is there any indication that any utility or government entity has use of an easement area? I'm just trying to clarify how you're using the term easement.

 

What everyone agrees upon is that a large triangular-shaped area, about .15 of an acre, is a natural drainage easement. It's there illegally, whether this means that it shouldn't have been sold as part of our yard, or some such thing, I'm not sure. No, there's nothing about city/government use of any easement on our property. Where we lived previously, we had a gas line easement in our backyard, so we were familiar with that. This is strictly something that's being used to the advantage of a private developer. I'm definitely concerned about the greater environmental implications of the whole thing, too. Unfortunately, I seem to be alone there.

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One way to get some involvement might be to contact the ACLU. I doubt they would look highly upon the flippant disregard for the Americans with Disabilities Act and have no use for a city planning committe tht chooses to ignore the law. While some waivers can be legally given, usually sidewalks that accomodate wheelchairs is not one of the waivers given.

 

Once the ACLU becomes involved, it may heighten awareness of other legal indelicacies.

 

Faith

 

You know, Faith, this is an interesting thing. It seems so ridiculous to me that they can just say something like, "Well, it would be really expensive for us to put a compliant sidewalk through here, and there's already this one waaayyy up here, which someone who needed it could get to if they went over here, then through here, then this way, and around, so we'd like to be exempt from this requirement so we don't have to spend the money." Please...

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Hie thee to a lawyer! My sister lost over $1,000,000 when their city moved the "natural flow" of the water, making one of their properties into wetlands and thus no longer able to be developed. Go now!

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Hie thee to a lawyer! My sister lost over $1,000,000 when their city moved the "natural flow" of the water, making one of their properties into wetlands and thus no longer able to be developed. Go now!

 

Thank you, yes, we'll be doing this ASAP. One of our lawyers suggested we call another firm in town.

 

There was an article in the paper tonight about last night's city meeting. It quoted the engineer working for the development co. as saying, "Water flows down hill. If that means it goes across the ___'s land, then so be it!"

 

Um, he forgot to mention that the water would be flowing in pipes and directed by them.

 

He sounded like a pompous you-know-what. A defensive you-know-what.:glare:

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What do you mean that the easement is illegal? Was it ever recorded? Did the title insurance company miss it when you bought the property?

 

Definitely contact an attorney. I'm sorry that you are going through this.

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Where's the water go after it crosses your land?

 

It floods onto the golf course.

 

What do you mean that the easement is illegal? Was it ever recorded? Did the title insurance company miss it when you bought the property?

 

apparently not, and yes.

 

Definitely contact an attorney. I'm sorry that you are going through this.

 

Thank you.

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