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Subject: Question about easement rights for a water line?
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SnakeP1
(Washington)

Posts:2


04/15/2018 11:49 AM  
We have a home-owner that is requesting a variance to be allowed to have a water well instead of connecting to the water system. His property is at the very edge of the water service jurisdiction. Also the water line would have to go over undeveloped property and the length of the line would be close to one mile. The undeveloped lots are zoned for 4 homes per acre so there is a very high chance that numerous homes in the future will be built over this water line. The Board has decided it will not take ownership of the line and that the owner will be responsible for any future repairs of the water line.

My question is since the Board will not accept the water line as part of its water system, can the homeowner enforce an easement and prevent construction of future homes over his water line at a later date? With so many homes being built over his water line in the future, it would prevent him from doing future repairs in the event the line breaks or leaks. As I mentioned, the water line would have to cross currently undeveloped property and I am wondering in this case if it might be more beneficial to allow the variance to prevent any future problems that the water line might cause.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:521


04/15/2018 12:08 PM  
If I understand you correctly, if the owner follows normal protocol his water line would be close to one mile and go over several properties. Instead he wants to dig a well.

It sounds to me like allowing the well would be the best option, assuming you have that authority. It varies state to state but if the well violates the CC&Rs, you probably cannot approve a variance.

Other issues I see are:

If someone already purchased these undeveloped lots, wouldn't they have to agree to the easement, or does it already exists?

The municipal or county government may not allow homes to be built over a waterline.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1153


04/15/2018 12:26 PM  
Personally, I'd be talking to a lawyer rather than trusting anonymous people on an internet forum for advice on this.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
SnakeP1
(Washington)

Posts:2


04/15/2018 12:31 PM  
Ben2A, yes the Board does have authority. It was brought up in the meeting and several neighboring associations and water districts have granted variances like this in the past. The county has already told the homeowner the only way he can get a well permit is if there is no available water provider or if there is a water provider, they must grant a variance.

The easement doesn't exist. That is why I am asking, can the homeowner assert easement rights for his water line? The undeveloped properties are owned by developers. Since this is essentially a utility easement, can the developers deny such an easement?
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:521


04/15/2018 1:44 PM  
I don't think you can create a new easement unless the owner agrees. This may vary from state to state and there may be exceptions so you should probably speak to an attorney.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:521


04/15/2018 1:44 PM  
I don't think you can create a new easement unless the owner agrees. This may vary from state to state and there may be exceptions so you should probably speak to an attorney.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:521


04/15/2018 1:47 PM  
Posted By DouglasK1 on 04/15/2018 12:26 PM
Personally, I'd be talking to a lawyer rather than trusting anonymous people on an internet forum for advice on this.



Couldn't you say that about 99% of the questions here?
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4108


04/16/2018 10:03 PM  
Posted By SnakeP1 on 04/15/2018 12:31 PM
Ben2A, yes the Board does have authority. It was brought up in the meeting and several neighboring associations and water districts have granted variances like this in the past. The county has already told the homeowner the only way he can get a well permit is if there is no available water provider or if there is a water provider, they must grant a variance.

The easement doesn't exist. That is why I am asking, can the homeowner assert easement rights for his water line? The undeveloped properties are owned by developers. Since this is essentially a utility easement, can the developers deny such an easement?


Seems to me the issue is the Water Provider needs to seek easements for running their own water lines to the property or potentially grant a variance to the homeowner from what you have said above. Potentially utility companies can obtain easements whereby nothing can be constructed on those easements. However, those easements will usually run along the edge of adjoining properties and generally are only 10’ easements along the property lines. I would contend the Utility Company can assert easements across other individual’s properties ... the Homeowner can only allow easements on their own property.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15823


04/17/2018 6:52 PM  
Typically, utility easements are part of a development.
If an easement exists, the owner is responsible to take care of the property. However, they should not build on the easement. If they do, then the utility can remove the improvement if necessary to utilize the easement and would likely not have to pay damages.

You really need to consult a property attorney on this one.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4108


04/18/2018 8:31 PM  
Posted By SnakeP1 on 04/15/2018 11:49 AM

My question is since the Board will not accept the water line as part of its water system, can the homeowner enforce an easement and prevent construction of future homes over his water line at a later date? With so many homes being built over his water line in the future, it would prevent him from doing future repairs in the event the line breaks or leaks. As I mentioned, the water line would have to cross currently undeveloped property and I am wondering in this case if it might be more beneficial to allow the variance to prevent any future problems that the water line might cause.


I have spent a number of years on my local Planning Commission so let me see if can better explain your question:

Generally the water line is initially paid for by a developer or homeowner (if later installed and ran from a far location). After it is installed it then generally becomes the property of the Utility Company with regards to future maintenance. The utility company will insure that any easements are met with regards to their future maintenance and repairs of the line. They will also insure the line installed will handle future growth. As already noted those easements will be along the outer edges of other properties needed to be crossed and are generally 10’ utility easements allowed via generally your State Statutes with regards to new utility installations.

The Pro for the property owner being allowed to drill a well would be they do not need to tie into the local community water system and while have higher initial cost will not later have a monthly water bill. The con for the local community is the residents have potentially one less owner helping pay for the provided services they offer. Your local communities depend on adding more owners to their services provided in order to potentially spread out the costs.



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