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  1. #1
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    Default Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    Hey, guys. Long-time reader, first-time poster.

    Anyway, here's the low down on the problem of the moment:

    A little under 6 years ago, we bought some property whereupon we built a house. About 600 feet of our property line runs roughly parallel with some power lines.
    We obviously understand that the power line people have an easement there as a matter of right. But the thing is:

    Around two or so years ago, I came home to find a note on my door from said power company that there were some trees in the easement area which they were going to cut down because they were potential threats to the power lines. These trees were about 40 feet away from the power line, and the power company (actually contractors) mentioned that their easement is for 50 feet on either side of the lines. No biggie.

    Last year, the same contract company came around wanting to further prune away some trees which were beyond 50 feet. We said okay to that as the trees there aren't important to us; we let some of our animals graze there anyway. But the contract guy said at that time they have an easement of 87 feet in either direction and that he was sorry for any confusion of the previous year's 50 feet bit. No biggie.

    So, I get home today to find a note on the door from a contract company coming out to prune away yet some more trees. Now they claim they have an easement of 100 feet to either side of the lines. And, within the easement they want to spray some kind of plant killing chemicals because they bushes and what not there are threatening to the power line. Yes, these 3 foot tall bushes are a threat to its safety apparently. So too are my 25 foot tall trees which are, says the guy, 96 feet from the lines.

    There is nothing I can see in our paperwork which grants to them an easement of such a great distance. So, I'm not at all kosher with this because the trees they now want to cut down are actually in my yard proper. Moreover, I'm not fond of their using poisonous chemicals in my yard because of the aforementioned animals we have.


    I called to speak with them and was curtly told that the lawyers had previously made a mistake (apparently two years running now) and that the easement is really 100 feet and there's nothing we can do about it. They'll be out in the morning to remove the trees, but as a courtesy they're willing to cut de-limb and cut the trees to whatever length we specify.

    So, I'm not really sure what to do since they're coming in the morning. Obviously, I'm not going to let them on my property beyond what is actually delineated in our papers. But I'm not sure what to say to the actual wood-cutters when they show up other than don't bring a chainsaw to a gun fight. (I jest).

    So, any advice on what to do to stave off the tree-cutting monkeys would be lovely.

    Also, is there a type of easement which could exist beyond what is stipulated in our deed which wouldn't be in a public record, or that we can't actually dispute?

    This isn't an area of law where I'm at all well-read; so anything to get me in the right direction would be loverly.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    If you could cut that down to a Cliff's note version rather than the War and Peace version you might get a bit more help.

    and did ya miss the part about what state this is involves?


    (dang this is fun)


    the easement is whatever is granted. It may or may not be specified (delineated) on your deed. Your deed may simple refer to "easements of record" or some such verbiage. So, that means you need to find the "easements of record" that would apply. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is ask the POCO (POwer COmpany) to provide you with a copy of any pertinent easement. They generally have a legal department and often have easier and faster access to the easements than the property owners.

    So, the first thing I would do is ask the POCO if they have a copy of the grant or originating document creating the easement. I have not had a lot of problems having them comply as it is in their best interest to have such documents available and they are generally not too bad to work with.

    If they resist, you may end up researching this yourself.



    The next part depends on if your property is part of a subdivision. If so, there may be documentation along with the platting and registration of the sub. If so, those records would be the creating and referenced documents referred to in the "easements of record". If applicable, you should be able to get the creating documents from your unmentioned states register of deeds office. I have found that more and more states and counties are making their records available online so you may not have to go any further than your keyboard to find what you seek.

    and probably the easiest, if you had a title search done when purchasing the land; the easement would at least be referred to in their documentation and may even be quite specific. I have seen it both ways. So, take a look at your title records from the title office and your title policy that showed up a month or so after you closed on the property (if you did in fact purchase title insurance).

    If you find nothing supporting the POCO's claim, you also might contact your title insurer. They have a vested interest in this due to the fact they are on the line for the devaluation of the property in question if they in fact missed the easement. They will often do the research necessary to defend your title.


    Sorry about it being not a linear process. Just wrote as it came to mind and did not go back and restructure the post.

    Oh look, there is rabbit in the front yard!!


    and the keeping the tree cutters out:

    I usually tell them to stay off the property until they have proof in hand. Again, the POCO usually doesn't like to be the bad guy so they have always tended to cooperate for at least a fair amount of time to research the matter. Again, here is where the legal department at the POCO may already have the docs in hand because as we all know, time is money and they do not like to have to come back to a property to trim. They tend to prefer to just keep on moving on down the road. More efficient that way and efficient saves money.

    So, I'm not really sure what to do since they're coming in the morning. Obviously, I'm not going to let them on my property beyond what is actually delineated in our papers. But I'm not sure what to say to the actual wood-cutters when they show up other than don't bring a chainsaw to a gun fight. (I jest).
    if you have your deed in hand and it does delineate the easement, tell them that is all they are allowed to deal with. If they disagree, they need to bring proof of their rights.

    The spray is a new thing for me. I have never heard or seen it used anywhere and to be honest, to me it is unnecessary and overkill. I would strongly urge them to not spray something that is going to kill ground cover and unless the bushes are something that is going to grow tall or there are so much the working on the lines would be impeded, I would also urge them to leave them be. I know in some cases the POCO's I have dealt with would leave such things with the knowledge that any damage they may cause will be billed to the land owner.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    Quote Quoting jk
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    If you could cut that down to a Cliff's note version rather than the War and Peace version you might get a bit more help.

    and did ya miss the part about what state this is involves?


    (dang this is fun)
    I'm nothing if not amusing. As I said, long-time reader, first-time poster. Plus, my state of residence is listed. =P

    the easement is whatever is granted. It may or may not be specified (delineated) on your deed. Your deed may simple refer to "easements of record" or some such verbiage. So, that means you need to find the "easements of record" that would apply. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is ask the POCO (POwer COmpany) to provide you with a copy of any pertinent easement. They generally have a legal department and often have easier and faster access to the easements than the property owners.
    50 feet is what is on our papers.

    The next part depends on if your property is part of a subdivision.
    Nope. You'd have to drive to get to my nearest neighbor (or walk for quite a while).
    If applicable, you should be able to get the creating documents from your unmentioned states register of deeds office. I have found that more and more states and counties are making their records available online so you may not have to go any further than your keyboard to find what you seek.
    Super groovy.

    If you find nothing supporting the POCO's claim, you also might contact your title insurer. They have a vested interest in this due to the fact they are on the line for the devaluation of the property in question if they in fact missed the easement. They will often do the research necessary to defend your title.
    I'll call my old agent up; I wasn't really wrapped up in the details. I just wanted to get it over with, ya dig?

    Sorry about it being not a linear process. Just wrote as it came to mind and did not go back and restructure the post.
    After all these years it's funny that you pretend you don't know where I live!
    Thank you for the effort, JK.


    Oh look, there is rabbit in the front yard!!


    and the keeping the tree cutters out:


    if you have your deed in hand and it does delineate the easement, tell them that is all they are allowed to deal with. If they disagree, they need to bring proof of their rights.

    The spray is a new thing for me. I have never heard or seen it used anywhere and to be honest, to me it is unnecessary and overkill. I would strongly urge them to not spray something that is going to kill ground cover and unless the bushes are something that is going to grow tall or there are so much the working on the lines would be impeded,
    If it hasn't been a problem by now, there's no reason to think this underbrush is going to do something in the future that it hasn't done in its past. Moreover, we have pet goats who run that area and keep it in check, more so that was done in years past. The goats are a recent "addition" (where addition = concession to shut people up) to the household.


    I would also urge them to leave them be. I know in some cases the POCO's I have dealt with would leave such things with the knowledge that any damage they may cause will be billed to the land owner.
    I'd even offer to pay double the damage this underbrush might possible inflict. But this isn't the power company pro forma; this is a contract company (different one than the previous two years) claiming that their legal department has re-evaluated the relevant documents and is saying they can force a 100 foot easement.

    Like I said, my papers say 50 feet, which is what we offered up to meet what we were told was a 100 foot across easement partly into our property and the other guy's across the way. So, they've somehow taken 100 feet across to mean that they have an easement extending 100 feet in both directions from the center of the powerline (which makes the actual distance 200 feet across). Anyway, thank you for the reply, JK. Thanks for the jibes; I'll be sure to get you back in the not polite thread. =P

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    The trimmers are merely a contracted company to cut for the POCO with no rights of their own independent of the POCO's rights, of course, unless they are specifically included as a party to the grant. Generally all of this is done under the POCO's rights.

    How big is this powerline (voltage wise)?. Are there poles or towers?

    as to the 50 feet; unless it states it is 50 feet from the centerline of the easement (and then typically with a description of where the centerline would be) it is just 50 feet. You're a smart guy. If you can't see how they could read the verbiage to imply if to be greater than the 50 feet, it probably isn't greater than 50 feet.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    They're big old powerlines - the ones really high up and what not.

    Yeah, mine says 50 feet is given to them. They're claiming their legal department says they actually have 100. So, we're waiting on them to bring out their evidence.

    Thanks for the help, JK.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    what we were told was a 100 foot across easement partly into our property and the other guy's across the way.
    While they may be totally correct that they do have a 100 foot easement, it simply sounds like they do not have 100 feet on your property but simply by adding the 2 adjacent easements together.

    Are your land records online? If so, maybe you can see the neighbors deed to see what is listed on his property or, you could ask him if he is around.






    have you ever seen any of these guys crawling the lines:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIjC7DjoVe8

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    Where do you find these videos?

    So, the guy comes over with a memo from his legal department to save me having to read all the legalese. So, now we're waiting for him to bring the actual documents showing they have such an easement.

    So, now we wait.

    The first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    ashman165;422127]Where do you find these videos?
    way too much unproductive time but due to my chosen profession, that one has a bit more interest than many. Along with those

    http://www.livevideo.com/video/22496...ctric-Arc.aspx

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...4740130993883#

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PaeJ3G3F6Y

    and the following one is really cool.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnnJp-XAZdU

    and this one really shows why trees need to be trimmed near powerlines:

    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/80773746/

    So, the guy comes over with a memo from his legal department to save me having to read all the legalese.
    Ya, a memo is so much more forceful than the same info, most likely from the same guy, relayed verbally.


    So, now we're waiting for him to bring the actual documents showing they have such an easement.
    Hhmm, was there some reason they didn't just bring them with them this time, like oh, maybe they do not say what they claim them to say and they simply figured you would roll over when they presented an actual memo claiming they were right? I mean, I don't know anybody that wouldn't simply cower to the power of an official memo.

    So, now we wait.
    and watch the trees grow.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    Quote Quoting jk
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    and watch the trees grow [more threatening].
    There, fixed. I'm about to raid, so I can't look at those. I'll check them out later.

    I don't think I've ever known what you do for a living. But if it involves electricity, helicopters and the internet, I'm dying to find out.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Tree Pruning or Removal in a Public Utility Easement

    Quote Quoting ashman165
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    There, fixed. I'm about to raid, so I can't look at those. I'll check them out later.

    I don't think I've ever known what you do for a living. But if it involves electricity, helicopters and the internet, I'm dying to find out.
    No helicopters and the internet is just my addiction (hey, at least it isn't porn).

    I am an electrician. I know a few linemen (the guys that work power lines). I used to e-chat with a gal that lives in California. Her husband was a lineman and did that crazy crap. I have worked with a few electricians that used choppers to set light poles and the HVAC units on top of a big WalMart type store.

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