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Thread: Conveying easements/rights-of-way onto yourself?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Conveying easements/rights-of-way onto yourself?

    One of those, I always wonder what others do kinda question:

    As I suspect is pretty standard, if a private developer has a proposed public street in its subdivision, the developer would convey (by plat or deed) a street right-of-way to the municipality. Similarly, if the developer has a municipality owned utility such as a water and/or sewer main being installed within the development outside of the street right-of-way, the developer would convey a utility easement over the main lines. Again, I suspect this is fairly standard.

    But, what if the public streets and utilities to be installed are within a development that is fully owned by the municipality? Say a new park, or new public facility?

    Do you the municipality either:

    - grant an easement/right-of-way onto to yourself? (if so, how does the staff attorney feel about this?)

    - don't bother with easements/rights-of-way since the overall underlying property is owned by the municipality as it's considered redundant?

    - indicate some other method of a need to preserve a future easement/right-of-way right should the underlying property be no longer owned by the municipality?

    Just curious.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    The public property should be platted. What is shown on the plat is the issue. The "streets" can be private drives and may or may not indicate rights-of-way. Utility lines should have easements as any other plat. If the utilities are looped into your system, you should know precisely where they are (and it would stop some future recreation director from building over the lines). And there is always the chance that the property may redevelop into something else over time.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    We try to get the dedication for the road ahead of the dedication of land for the park or whatever. That way it is a developer or owner putting the land up for dedication and not the County trying to declare the land surplus.

    We've had instances where the school system had to give land for a road widening and they had to (with a state blessing) record a permanent ROW easement in place of actually dedication. Schools would have to take Board action to declare the area to be dedicated as surplus before it could be dedicated. Then they'd have to immediately approve the deed. A major bureaucratic pain. We've had other instances where the owner (County) dedicated land to itself for public ROW. Goofy, but that's what we did.

    Our utilities are a separate entity from the County, so they get easements on or off publicly owned land.

    So far, the attorneys have gone along with all of the above. Hey, in 50 years no one will be the wiser.

    We have a similar issue with HOAs trying to grant easements across their own property for, say, access for maintenance of a storm water pond. Happens quite often. By ordinance, they have to own the land for the pond in perpetuity so an easement to themselves would be unnecessary and possibly in violation of state law.

    I was informed by one of our County attorneys that VA state law prohibited given oneself an easement. I thought this odd because I could not see the harm, but I try very hard not to be a lawyer so...
    Last edited by Gedunker; 16 Sep 2010 at 4:06 PM. Reason: seq. posts
    No one stood up and yelled, "Socialist Government takeover of science and engineering!" when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    The public property should be platted. What is shown on the plat is the issue. The "streets" can be private drives and may or may not indicate rights-of-way. Utility lines should have easements as any other plat. If the utilities are looped into your system, you should know precisely where they are (and it would stop some future recreation director from building over the lines). And there is always the chance that the property may redevelop into something else over time.
    Agreed, public property should be platted (though our parks and facilities staff would just assume being able to plat without having to go through the entitlement process, another story for another day). And a plat should show what would normally be easements/r-o-w on private development for the reasons you outline, so that the location of the lines are known, either for future expansion, or redevelopment/conveyance to a private property.

    It's the concept of a municipality conveying (whether by plat or deed) an easement/r-o-w onto itself that has made our legal staff say is problematic. We now label what normally is an easement or right-of-way as an "area" that serves as notice. This apparently solves the conundrum of conveyance of a right onto oneself, which you apparently can't/shouldn't do. Just wondering how common this is.

    Quote Originally posted by Cloverhill View post
    We have a similar issue with HOAs trying to grant easements across their own property for, say, access for maintenance of a storm water pond. Happens quite often. By ordinance, they have to own the land for the pond in perpetuity so an easement to themselves would be unnecessary and possibly in violation of state law.

    I was informed by one of our County attorneys that VA state law prohibited given oneself an easement. I thought this odd because I could not see the harm, but I try very hard not to be a lawyer so...
    It's interesting from your previous post that with your utilities all being private, you're apparently having the private utility providers provide separate (exclusive?) easements for themselves. We require on either side of public streets that a general "utility easement" be established for any franchised utility provider whether public or private which would allow the right of use for the established gas, cable, electric, phone, water and/or sewer provider.

    I guess in your practice of separate easements it avoids the situation here with a general utility easement which dovetails with the second part of your post above and is what I'm interested in, as it must be a common state law that you can't convey to yourself an easement.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 16 Sep 2010 at 4:07 PM. Reason: seq. posts

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