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  #1  
Old 06-02-2006, 08:46 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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I have about twenty flags stuck in my front yard

I come home from work and there's about twenty of those little flags stuck in my yard, the ones power companies use to mark off places where they need to dig.

They're not just along the property line. We have oleanders and silverthornes in our front yard by the road, but there's a gap because one of the silverthornes died and we haven't replaced it yet. The flags go between the bushes in the front yard, marching toward the house. They are not parallel to our property line, they are stuck right in the middle of the yard!

Ivylad was home all day, but no one knocked on our door to ask permission to spray paint the grass and stick the flags in the ground. Ivylad called town hall, who knew nothing about it, and warned us against pulling the flags up. Apparently, when "whoever" comes to dig, if the flags aren't there and there's damage, we're liable for repair.

I was quite indignant, so I called our mayor (I love living in a small town) and he said it was probably a utility company marking off places where they need to dig. Excuse me, but they are NOT digging in the middle of my yard or halfway up the driveway. I am quite incensed about this.

I called the phone company, who told me to look in the front of my phone book. There's a number "Call Before You Dig" and these are the folks that apparently mark off where digging needs to be done. Of course, they are closed until Monday.

Questions...what are my rights here? We need to cut the grass, and we can't do that with all these little flags stuck in the yard. Can I deny permission to "whoever" when they come to dig? (I don't think this is someone's idea of a prank, unless they did my next door neighbor's yard too. They have a bunch of flags stuck in the middle of their yard as well.)

I am somewhat upset about this. Someone trespassed on my property and spray painted the yard and stuck a bunch of flags into the ground. And there's no one I can vent to until Monday. Grrr....
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  #2  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:01 PM
Least Original User Name Ever Least Original User Name Ever is offline
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Fuck venting. Wait until Monday and ask these people your questions. They're pretty important.

All mayors should be available by phonecall at ANY hour.
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  #3  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:08 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Hang on Ivylass. If any utility company needs to dig up their own line, they will already have an easement where the little flags are.

What color are they? That will tell you which utility it is.
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  #4  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:09 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Least Original User Name Ever

All mayors should be available by phonecall at ANY hour.
I reached him at home, and he was very pleasant and helpful. He said the cable company laid a cable across his front yard three weeks ago and it still hasn't been buried.
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  #5  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:12 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyWt
Hang on Ivylass. If any utility company needs to dig up their own line, they will already have an easement where the little flags are.

What color are they? That will tell you which utility it is.
Orange. Some of them say CATV (I'm assuming that's the cable TV), some say "Buried Telephone Line" and some say "Buried Electrical Cable."

They better not expect an easement in the middle of my yard.
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  #6  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:13 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Florida's one-call web site was very un-informative.

You could read Mississippi's one-call site and find out about how the legality of it is supposed to work.
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  #7  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:16 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Orange is telephone/cable tv. Do the marks run up to the telephone or cable connection on your house?

For future reference:

blue = water
green = sewer
red = electric
yellow = gas
white can be any "other" such as storm drain.
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  #8  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:17 PM
Least Original User Name Ever Least Original User Name Ever is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
I reached him at home, and he was very pleasant and helpful. He said the cable company laid a cable across his front yard three weeks ago and it still hasn't been buried.

That is a good thing and it is the way it should be.

Good luck to you and the Lad.
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  #9  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:19 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyWt
Orange is telephone/cable tv. Do the marks run up to the telephone or cable connection on your house?
I don't think so. Our phone box is on the side of the house, but we have Vonage, so we're not hooked up to the local phone company. I don't know where the cable lines are buried, since we switched from Dish to cable about two years ago.

Could they just be marking for tracking purposes?
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  #10  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:22 PM
kurahee kurahee is offline
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Just to give you my latest experience with this, I wanted to plant a tree in my yard, and did the "call this number before you dig" thing, because I thought it was the right thing to do.

Now, no one in my neighborhood has ever called as far as I can tell, unless they are getting a swimming pool or some sort of major addition. But, I do as they say. I was home, and as you mentioned, no knock at the door, no nothing. I have 3 different color flags all over my yard, and paint arrows everywhere. (three different colors, no less)

This wouldn't piss me off as much as it has except for the fact that I explicitly told the lady on the phone that I did not want paint on my yard. Flags were fine, but no paint. She said no problem. Yeah, right. She also said that if I don't plant within a week, I have to call these bozos again! Why? She couldn't answer that one. I guess the chances that these brain surgeons won't have a lawn to paint one day this summer isn't worth the risk. I think it was very rude that they didn't at least ring the bell. If I'm not home, fine. But I was there. I don't see the need for paint AND flags. Bastards.

HA! I know where the plants are going, I won't be hitting anything, and if they can't follow directions, I guess I can't either. So if the plants don't get in this week, I'll risk it. What a bunch of boneheads.

As far as digging on your property, they probably have the right, but I'd think they'd have the obligation to let you know when/where.
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  #11  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:32 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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kurahee: You know, the paint doesn't last very long. Between the weather and mowing, pretty soon you won't see the marks.

Marking underground utilities is not a "bonehead" thing to do. Just ask any contractor who hit a power line or gas line which was un-marked. That is, if he's still around to ask.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivylass
Could they just be marking for tracking purposes?
I kind of doubt it. Yes, sometimes marks are made and then "surveyed in" as part of mapping; but if the Mayor's neighborhood got new cable lines it sounds likely that your neighborhood is getting new lines as well. Particularly when you say your neighbor has the same marks.

If the cable co. has no easement from you then they usually run their line within the right of way. If you can look down the street, sight a line along any fire hydrants/telephone pedestals/power poles. The strip bewteen this line of objects and the street is part of the street right-of-way.

If they're out of the right-of-way, and not in any easment, you might want to call their number and report it.
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  #12  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:38 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
They better not expect an easement in the middle of my yard.
They may already have one.
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  #13  
Old 06-02-2006, 10:37 PM
Cowgirl Jules Cowgirl Jules is offline
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Don't know about in your jurisdiction, but in mine, the call before you dig people (ours is called USA) don't actually do the marking. Someone calls in a dig, and they alert all of the line owners in the designated area. Those companies are then responsible for marking their own lines. So if my contractor called in 3 days before they were going to work, the cable company, the gas company, etc. would all come out and mark their own lines. If, say, the phone company did NOT come out, and my contractor then broke an unmarked line, it's the phone companies problem to fix it.

You have multi-colored flags because there are different lines in your yard. Our colors here are consistent with what NinetyWt said. And just because you see the flags doesn't mean that they're going to dig there--often, they'll put flags out along the line past the excavation boundary so they're still visible during the dig. The actual excavation should be marked in a white square (here at least. YMMV.) And it might say who's requesting the alert--that's who I would start talking to. But they rarely dig for no reason, and they're probably not going to NOT fix a broken line or whatever to save your oleanders. Especially if they're planted in the easement.
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  #14  
Old 06-02-2006, 10:44 PM
kurahee kurahee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyWt
kurahee: You know, the paint doesn't last very long. Between the weather and mowing, pretty soon you won't see the marks.

Marking underground utilities is not a "bonehead" thing to do. Just ask any contractor who hit a power line or gas line which was un-marked. That is, if he's still around to ask.
You are right, of course. Marking is NOT a bonehead thing to do. Painting big red, orange, and white arrows all over my yard is what I was referring to, especially when I specifically told them not to. Also, since the flags are there, and I know where I'm going to plant (I'm using a shovel, not a backhoe), and according to the markings I don't have anything to worry about, I don't understand their policy of wanting me to call back and have it re-marked if I don't get the plants in by next week.

It's not like they are going to be laying any cable, gas, electric or water lines without me or the rest of the neighborhood knowing it.
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  #15  
Old 06-02-2006, 11:04 PM
Metacom Metacom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyWt
Hang on Ivylass. If any utility company needs to dig up their own line, they will already have an easement where the little flags are.
Not necessarily.

I've called the "one call" number a couple times, and they've marked both the lines/water mains/etc. in the easement AND the cables that actually service my house (e.g., they marked the path the conduit holding my electric service cable took from the base of the pole to my meter). Those cables and pipes, the ones that actually go to the house and are just for me, aren't in easements, yet they get marked.

And I don't get all the anger over this. It's a valuable service. They do it quickly, efficiently, and for free. The paint will go away quick, and it's a small price for the peace-of-mind in knowing that some contractor isn't going to electrocute himself when his trencher grabs your power line, or a backhoe knocks out your internet access for a few days.
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  #16  
Old 06-02-2006, 11:12 PM
kurahee kurahee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metacom

And I don't get all the anger over this. It's a valuable service. They do it quickly, efficiently, and for free. The paint will go away quick, and it's a small price for the peace-of-mind in knowing that some contractor isn't going to electrocute himself when his trencher grabs your power line, or a backhoe knocks out your internet access for a few days.

I think my personal anger will subside if the paint washes away in a week's time. I have to say, though that the red paint especially is bothering me. It was sprayed not only on grass, but on some nice white landscaping stones that I paid a nice buck for, and some overspray hit some nice bushes that I planted this spring. If it doesn't wash off and is permanent, I'll be irked. They could have used flags in both places.

I will say that one company DID use flags only, and was very respectful of my plantings and property in general.
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  #17  
Old 06-02-2006, 11:50 PM
Jophiel Jophiel is offline
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In my experience from calling in JULIE's (Illinois's version of the utility locate program), the number you call isn't the person who'll be doing the marking. Each utility sends out its own people to locate on the site.

Also, note the words "on the site". If you call and say you're going to dig at 345 Maple St, then each utility company comes out and marks any of their lines or cables buried at 345 Maple Street. Even if you only plan to dig in one spot, they come out and mark everything on the site. It's just safer that way. Right now, the village is installing street lights along a road by me and I have JULIE marks and flags running between my neighbor's back yard and mine, some 60' away from the road. But they're putting a light in her parkway so her entire yard got marked.

In the case Ivylass presents, I assume that's what happened. Someone needs to perhaps dig on the easement and so they called for a utility locate and the different people came out and marked any gas/cable/water/phone/electric/etc line that fell under their jurisdiction. Even if no one is planning to dig there.
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  #18  
Old 06-03-2006, 12:05 AM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Let me back up a moment and say, kurahee, I think it was quite wise of you to call in a locate. Some lines (phone lines especially) can be quite close to the surface and easily broken by a shovel or small tiller.

The question of paint vs. flags - flags are enticing to children, both young and old. If I were the utilily I may paint 'cause, it's gonna stay there. :P

If they damaged your landscaping rocks, you probably can get replacements. The bushes - those leaves will shed and the problem will be gone.

As to the re-marking; again this is SOP for utilities; they will re-mark after a certain length of time or after several rain events if the project is not completed.
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  #19  
Old 06-03-2006, 06:08 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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The paint thing gets me going here. They have put paint on the flowers, the expensive decrative marble stone, and paver type stones. Many tyimes nobody is even doing anything in the area.
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  #20  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:02 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
I come home from work and there's about twenty of those little flags stuck in my yard, the ones power companies use to mark off places where they need to dig.

They're not just along the property line. We have oleanders and silverthornes in our front yard by the road, but there's a gap because one of the silverthornes died and we haven't replaced it yet. The flags go between the bushes in the front yard, marching toward the house. They are not parallel to our property line, they are stuck right in the middle of the yard!

Ivylad was home all day, but no one knocked on our door to ask permission to spray paint the grass and stick the flags in the ground. Ivylad called town hall, who knew nothing about it, and warned us against pulling the flags up. Apparently, when "whoever" comes to dig, if the flags aren't there and there's damage, we're liable for repair.

I was quite indignant, so I called our mayor (I love living in a small town) and he said it was probably a utility company marking off places where they need to dig. Excuse me, but they are NOT digging in the middle of my yard or halfway up the driveway. I am quite incensed about this.

I called the phone company, who told me to look in the front of my phone book. There's a number "Call Before You Dig" and these are the folks that apparently mark off where digging needs to be done. Of course, they are closed until Monday.

Questions...what are my rights here? We need to cut the grass, and we can't do that with all these little flags stuck in the yard. Can I deny permission to "whoever" when they come to dig? (I don't think this is someone's idea of a prank, unless they did my next door neighbor's yard too. They have a bunch of flags stuck in the middle of their yard as well.)

I am somewhat upset about this. Someone trespassed on my property and spray painted the yard and stuck a bunch of flags into the ground. And there's no one I can vent to until Monday. Grrr....
In my experience, the flags are to point to where they're not supposed to dig. We called JULIE to find out where our pipes were, and they were complete weenies about it, but we were able to avoid digging up all the important stuff when we wired our garage to a bigger circuit. The different colors signify different utilities, I guess. When you see a flag, don't dig or you'll take out the entire neighborhood.

As for the mowing, I think the utility companies trump your long grass. Which totally sucks.
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  #21  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:11 AM
Gala Matrix Fire Gala Matrix Fire is offline
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They also painted our sidewalk. The markings lasted about a year.
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  #22  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:51 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Try sandpapering rocks & sidwalks that are painted.

Coarser-grained paper, natch.
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  #23  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:51 AM
enipla enipla is online now
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Look in your loan documents. You probably have a Improvement Location Certificate, or ILC.

This should show you where your house is on the lot as well as any easements and improvements.

First thing I would do on Monday is call the locate service mentioned earlier. Find out if a locate was done on your property, why, and complain about them painting your landscaping rocks. Don't complain about the grass.

This could be something as simple as an address mix up.
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  #24  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:52 AM
enipla enipla is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
Try sandpapering rocks & sidwalks that are painted.

Coarser-grained paper, natch.
Wire brush and a little paint thinner might be the way to go.
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  #25  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:54 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enipla
Wire brush and a little paint thinner might be the way to go.
Paint thinner near your grass/flowering shrubs/garden?
No way!
Use rubbing alcohol.
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  #26  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:57 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Steel wool might work, too.
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  #27  
Old 06-03-2006, 08:24 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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For the record, easements don't magically appear when the Wizard of Hydro waves his magic wand, or something. They're legal titles to the use of property not amounting to fee simple. If I own an access easement on your property, I have a legally deeded right to cross your land at a specific defined location on your property for the purpose of accessing my own.

If you granted an easement, you should have a record of doing so. But easements run with the land, and if a previous owner granted an easement, it should be included as an exception on your title deed and/or listed in your abstract of title.

However, odd stuff happens. I recall reading about a parcel of land in a small town near my home town, vacant and where the new owner wished to build on it. The town owned a sewer line and two water lines which crossed it. But:
  • There was a ten-foot-wide easement for the sewer line. However, the contractor had put in the sewer line on a route that at one end was on the precise edge of the easement and on the other was about sixteen feet outside the easement.
  • The water line which ran diagonally across the property had no deeded easement whatsoever. The terms "constructive easement," "encroachment," and "lawsuit for damages" got thrown around a lot before somebody finally negotiated a compromise.
  • The water line which ran along the edge of the property had an absurd easement that varied from ten to thirty feet in width.

All this said, the normal terms of an easement authorize a given public utility (either a government service or a corporate entity) to (1) run their lines (of whatever sort) across your property, in the interest of providing you and their neighbors with the service they provide, and (2) enter on your property to fix their lines (a) in an emergency or (b) with notice to you.

Legally, you are not supposed to construct anything or put in large woody plants on an easement, even if it's "on your property" -- it's an encumbrance upon your right to use your property as you see fit, granted by you or your predecessor in the public interest. You and your neighbors need to dispose of household liquid waste, so you agree to a sewer line on your land. The town needs to access that sewer line when there's a break or blockage, so you agree not to build atop it or adjacent to it. They have a ten-foot corridor running across your land beneath which their sewer line runs, and on the surface of which you may plant tulips or pansies but not lilacs or yew trees, and on which you may erect a screen tent but not a garage.
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  #28  
Old 06-03-2006, 01:17 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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I won't be able to find out anything until Monday. We built this house, so we are the original owners of the land. We also have a septic tank, so unless they're gonig to run a sewer line I don't know what's going on.
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  #29  
Old 06-03-2006, 11:35 PM
meara meara is offline
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Maybe you'll get lucky and find out that it's something you want. A few weeks ago, our neighborhood got painted up. A few days later, crews were everywhere installing fiber. In the near future, we're going to be able to upgrade our bandwidth to 30Mbps down / 5Mbps up
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  #30  
Old 06-05-2006, 08:32 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Update

I called the Call Before You Dig folks. They told me the name of the outfit that had requested the flag marking.

I called the Outfit. They are a subcontractor for Sprint and Comcast. I was annoyed on the phone, asking why the flags were in the middle of my yard and why we weren't notified. I guess I overwhelmed the supervisor, because she said she'd call me back. I had her call Ivylad, since I'm at work.

They did call Ivylad within about 30 minutes. It seems Comcast is having cable problems, so they will be digging up and replacing the cable. We were assured that all sod and turf will be replaced.

We will be taking "before" pictures of our yard.
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  #31  
Old 06-05-2006, 09:02 AM
SmackFu SmackFu is offline
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See, no big deal.
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  #32  
Old 06-05-2006, 09:11 AM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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No big deal because Ivylass called to find out what the hell was going on... But if she hadn't've? Would the companies involved with the digging come and told her what was going on, or would the Ivyfamily just've found out when all their lawn was torn to hell?
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  #33  
Old 06-05-2006, 09:18 AM
Tripler Tripler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyWt
kuraheeMarking underground utilities is not a "bonehead" thing to do. Just ask any contractor who hit a power line or gas line which was un-marked. That is, if he's still around to ask.

Hi! I'm that guy! (well, sorta).

We once called to get some lines marked out, and the One-Call people came, and dutifully marked the pressurized gas line underground. We were trenching for an overhead-to-underground power feeder, and were careful to avoid the gas line. Needless to say, I didn't have the best dirt boys around, and they found the line. . . a full five feet off from where it had been marked. Granted, requirements are within 18" of either side of the marked line (local lane widths may vary), but five friggin' feet? Oy vey.

That, my friends, was a very interesting day: SNAP! hisssssssssssssssssss . . . "Say Bill, did you just fart?" "Um, no Sam. Did you?"

Tripler
There is a reason I've come to use pressure washers for "making mud".
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  #34  
Old 06-05-2006, 09:48 AM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra Indigo
Would the companies involved with the digging come and told her what was going on,
It would seem to be in the best interest of the utility to put out flyers or door hangers - "we're going to be digging in your area during the month of June" - but technically, if they have an easement I don't think that they are required to notify. And, if they are "replacing" a cable which is already installed in Ivylass' yard, they've got an easement. Either that, or it's installed in the street right-of-way. It would have been a Good Thing, as far as their public relations, if they had notified their customers.


Tripler: couldn't ya just "pinch" it off ?
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  #35  
Old 06-05-2006, 10:01 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmackFu
See, no big deal.
Someone trespassed onto my property and stuck flags into my yard without my permission. Apparently, strangers are going to be digging up my front yard and there's nothing I can do about it. I am irked that I was given no notice of what they were doing.

I am still not happy that my yard is going to be dug up. We also have a septic tank, and while Ivylad does not think they are going to go that close to our house, I still have concerns of the potential damage to my yard, shrubs, and how good their "repair and replacement" will be.
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  #36  
Old 06-05-2006, 11:22 AM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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Quote:
Someone trespassed onto my property and stuck flags into my yard without my permission.
Did you ever check to see if they had an easement? If they do, they weren't trespassing.
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  #37  
Old 06-05-2006, 11:25 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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As mentioned above. this is not along my property line. There are flags running about 18-20 feet up my yard.
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  #38  
Old 06-05-2006, 11:27 AM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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As mentioned above. this is not along my property line. There are flags running about 18-20 feet up my yard.
That doesn't mean they don't have an easement. I'm assuming this means you didn't check.
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  #39  
Old 06-05-2006, 11:51 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Since when do they have an easement in the middle of my yard?
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  #40  
Old 06-05-2006, 12:01 PM
Tripler Tripler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
Since when do they have an easement in the middle of my yard?
It may have been written there when the property was first developed, or later on when those utilities came into the neighborhood. It happens quite often actually. Do you have access to your deed or any paperwork about your lot?

Or, you could even call the muncipal engineer to find out what's underground there, and who authorized the dig.

Tripler
Someone has to know. You don't just go digging around all willy-nilly, without costing some serious cash to someone.
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  #41  
Old 06-05-2006, 12:14 PM
Ghanima Ghanima is offline
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This is so familiar. I used to work for the power company and always had to deal with some inflamed ego. "You're not coming into MY yard." Oh yes I am, and there's nothing you can do about it. "You're not going to trim MY tree." Fine, but when your area is the last to have power restored during an outage because your refusal automatically bumped you to lowest priority, you'll be calling the power company whining about where YOUR electricity is. Easements are a fact of life for all property owners who wish to have running water, electricity, sweage lines or cable. Get over it. That said, they should be respectful of your property. If there is damage from the spray paint that is permanent you should pursue compensation. But it's really best if you act reasonable. Acting like a jerk means you get labeled as a "problem customer" and they will treat you as such.
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  #42  
Old 06-05-2006, 12:36 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghanima
This is so familiar. I used to work for the power company and always had to deal with some inflamed ego. "You're not coming into MY yard." Oh yes I am, and there's nothing you can do about it. "You're not going to trim MY tree." Fine, but when your area is the last to have power restored during an outage because your refusal automatically bumped you to lowest priority, you'll be calling the power company whining about where YOUR electricity is. Easements are a fact of life for all property owners who wish to have running water, electricity, sweage lines or cable. Get over it. That said, they should be respectful of your property. If there is damage from the spray paint that is permanent you should pursue compensation. But it's really best if you act reasonable. Acting like a jerk means you get labeled as a "problem customer" and they will treat you as such.
So now I'm a jerk because I want an explanation for flags in my yard? For the record, I have not forbidden them access to my property. I asked for an explanation, expressed dissatisfaction that the flags were put in my yard with no notice, and will be keeping an eye to make sure anything they do is repaired and/or replaced.

Yeesh.
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  #43  
Old 06-05-2006, 02:05 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
Someone trespassed onto my property and stuck flags into my yard without my permission. Apparently, strangers are going to be digging up my front yard and there's nothing I can do about it. I am irked that I was given no notice of what they were doing.

I am still not happy that my yard is going to be dug up. We also have a septic tank, and while Ivylad does not think they are going to go that close to our house, I still have concerns of the potential damage to my yard, shrubs, and how good their "repair and replacement" will be.
The town where my dad lives allowed cheap-ass sewage pipes from the house to the main sewage line out in the street. Forty years later, nearly everyone in the town had toilet problems and they had to pay a company to tear up the yard...house to street...to get new pipe installed. When you go up and down the streets, you see the tell-tale strip of dirt in the lawn. Some were repaired fairly nicely, but many still show the signs of the grass being replaced with shitty, weedy grass all these years later.

Long story short, don't expect too much in the way of a repair job once they tear up your property.
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  #44  
Old 06-05-2006, 09:25 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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OTOH, the City where I used to work took great pains to make sure any dirtwork was finished out completely and sod relaid smoothly. Heck, they even would buy different sod for different yards - whatever sod matched your grass. I've seen a lot of yards dug up and replaced - and you'd never even know the City had been in there. So don't fret. Just be calm and firm. And, take the "before" pictures.

As to the easement question - I've also seen easements in some wacky places. I even saw a builder build a house over the sewer line. If you have your deed it should be in there. If your house is in a subdivision it will be indicated on the plat - a copy of which is at City Hall.

Here's an example of a water line easement (not too good, sorry).
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  #45  
Old 06-05-2006, 11:52 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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The gas company has dug up the easment in front of my house twice to repair the main and to install anti-corrosion anodes. The backhoe operator replaced the dirt and sod both times, and I was impressed that they did as good of repair as they did while using heavy equipment. After a heavy watering the yard completely healed within a few weeks. Cable and telecom lines aren't dug as deeply and those guys sometimes do all of their digging by hand. The results may or may not be as good, but any excavation will probably be on a smaller scale.

FWIW, Tripler, I'll back you up about being wary when digging in the dirt. A friend's father died when he cut into an unmarked gas line with his backhoe. A few shots of spray paint would have made a world of difference.
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  #46  
Old 06-06-2006, 12:00 AM
MannyL MannyL is offline
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I have to add that in my area when the cable company ran cables to replace existing cables they dug the ground up at an angle, put the cable down and then the grass fell back into place. When they finished you could not tell they ever dug anywhere.
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  #47  
Old 06-06-2006, 10:04 AM
Plynck Plynck is offline
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What NinetyWt and Polycarp said.

Easements give another party certain rights to properties that are not their own. This is a complicated legal area (what isn't, these days?), and what follows is a very simplistic explanation from a non-lawyer.

Permanent easements are usually used for utilities (above or below ground) that allow the municipality or utility company access to maintain, repair or replace their utility. As polycarp explained earlier, you are not allowed to place anything within the permanent easement that will impede the access to this utility. This might include larger plants or trees, buildings or structures. If you do have these within the permanent easement, you run the risk of losing them without having them replaced.

Temporary easements may be necessary to construct the utility (to maneuver equipment, provide a larger trench, store materials, etc.). Once the construction is complete, the property reverts to the original owner. This is usually for the convenience of the municipality or contractor, and they are typically more responsive to the replacement of damaged property.

From what I read here, it seems that there is currently a utility (telephone/cable) on your property. I have never heard of flags or markings being placed for future locations of utilities; only for existing locations. It might be worth a trip to your Registry of Deeds or equivalent to determine whether there is an easement across your property for that utility. If there is, you are likely SOL. It may have been in place when the land was subdivided and the roads and properties were laid out. There will be wording within the description of the easement that will spell out their rights, and what your responsibilities are as a property owner.

While you're at it, verify that your property line is where you think it is. There may be bounds at the property corners. Typically, most folks think that their property extends to the edge of street pavement, when occasionally it can actually stop twenty or thirty feet short of that.

If there is no easement, that doesn't get you out of the woods, but it puts more onus on the utility. If the utility has been in place on your property for some time, they may just refuse to relocate it. They may not have the right to be where they are, but they'll fight you anyway, and probably wear you down. At the very least, they should file an easement for your land now to avoid this in the future. Because this is now an encroachment on your land after the fact, and is depriving you of the use of part of your land, you may be able to claim damages from this.

Either way, you have the right to have your land restored to pre-existing conditions (less any proscriptions that may be in the easement).

Best of luck.
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  #48  
Old 06-06-2006, 10:14 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plynck
While you're at it, verify that your property line is where you think it is. There may be bounds at the property corners. Typically, most folks think that their property extends to the edge of street pavement, when occasionally it can actually stop twenty or thirty feet short of that.
Our house is like 120+ years old. The original plat had our property line all the way to the yellow line in the road. Then, with progress and cars and all, they put in a road and basically took a lane's worth of land from the parcel. Then they put an easement thingy in, I guess. Someone along the line planted The Ugly Hedge that we assume is the boundary of our actual property There is also an access road on either side of our land that (I think) run all the way down to the river. There are utility lines and that sort of thing. The neighbor uses that access road as a driveway, but they have to allow utility traffic to access their stuff if need be. The other road is used by cops and forest preserve guys.
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  #49  
Old 06-06-2006, 03:54 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Join Date: May 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plynck
If the utility has been in place on your property for some time
In some cases, if a utility has been in place for a certain number of years, a "prescriptive" easement can be argued - kind of like "it's been here so long withough dispute that an easment can now be claimed". That's what the City attorney said in the event that an ancient water/sewer/storm drain - not in any recorded easement - needed repair.
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  #50  
Old 06-06-2006, 05:30 PM
Plynck Plynck is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyWt
In some cases, if a utility has been in place for a certain number of years, a "prescriptive" easement can be argued...
There is something very similar in this area: "Easement by prescription", which (to my limited understanding) involves "the open and notorious use" of another's property for an extended period of time (typically twenty years). I've often seen the word "hostile" thrown in there, but my guess is that that may not mean hostile in the sense that we interpret it. I've seen this invoked in several situations, such as occupying another's property with a building, or the use of a driveway or path. I've not seen it specifically used for utililities (probably because an underground utility is not an open use), but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it is possible.

I do know that it can't be invoked on public lands. So, the town can claim an easement on your land if they have an historic use of that land, but you can't put a cabin deep in the Town forest, and then claim it for your own twenty years later.
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