Our 10 acre property is one of 6 properties that share deeded access (ingress/egress and utilities) over a 25 ft. wide easement running along the eastern edge of each person's property lines, connecting each property to a County Road on the south. The easement itself is over a mile long, and when we bought our property the road was in terrible condition.... a dirt road with deep ruts, rocks, huge holes and poor drainage.
When we moved here 2 yrs ago, the county advised us ours was a PRIVATE ROAD and they do not maintain these. And, the US Postal service will not deliver mail to our home, as rural carriers are not required to travel more than 1/2 mile down any PRIVATE ROAD. We had no expectation otherwise, and simply obtained permission from the property owner's and proceeded to add fill, and use our tractor to grade the road and improve the drainage. After about 6 months of work, we finally had a nice, driveable access road. Shaded by lovely oaks. Uh oh.
The problem is the Access Road has now come to the attention of a group of horse enthusiasts and ATV riders....... they are now riding their horses at full gallop, leaving big holes, and their "calling cards". The ATV's run in circles, leaving deep ruts, and they have destroyed young trees on our property in attempts to create new paths through our woods.
Our attempts to ask them to stop damaging our road was met with sneers and comments that they are entitled to do whatever they like. (they do not live on any of the properties here) The County Sherrif's office "Public Service Officer" advised us we should put up No Trespassing Signs, as this is a Private Road. We did, and made sure it met the state requirements (4" letters, naming property owner, etc).
Today, we called the sherrif to report a horse rider trespassing on our property (they were on our portion of the access road and again made rude comments and insisted they could do what they wanted). The officer that responded to the call advised us that anyone has the right to use a private road, that it was deemed "PUBLIC ACCESS" even if it was a private road, and there was nothing we could do to stop them. And furthermore, he advised us that our no-trespassing signs must come down.
I don't wish to violate the laws, but this doesn't seem right. Can ANYONE enter our property at will, just because our neighbor has deeded access to use OUR property for ingress/egress? Do we need to hire a lawyer, or just get another sherrif's officer involved?