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Question DetailsAsked on 9/22/2017

water line before 1945 under city property no easement. can they force me to remove it

this water pipe is under fire station property. Installed more than 70 years ago. can they remove it. is it grandfathered in.

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1 Answer


You say grandfathered in - oh, you are asking, not saying. Most likely you have an implied if not express (written) easement - check the official plat at the real property recorder's office - if an easement is shown or the line is shown on the previous plat you may well have an easement already. If so, then you almost certainlyhave a permanent easement for it and they cannot force you to remove it - though they can almost certainly reroute it (say for new construction) to a different but equally functional location, at no cost to you.

If you can prove it has been there 70 years or so, you could also maybe (though maybe not on owned city property) prove an easement based on continual use even if it does not show on plans anywhere. And generally, continual use of a water supply line like that, in many states, grants you an automatic pipeline easement after about 7-10 years of use.

Your solution if they are getting snotty about it - talk to the department head in charge of the work causing them to want to remove it (probably city building department, public works department, or fire department). BE sure to get any agreemetn in writing.

You could also talk to your local assemblyman or councilman to take up your case, or push comes to shove or if it looks like they are going to get nasty or demand you pay for it, get an attorney to force their hand. I can't imagine, assuming you can somehow show the line has been there indefinitely, that an honest judge is going to make you pay for relocation, though will almost certainly grant a movement of the line unless it has a permanent easement on the title.

Bear in mind, if you get a leak under the fire station property they are likely to get snotty about repairing damage to paving, firehouse floor, or might end up having to excavate through refuelingor heating oil piping and underground fuel tank, etc so if you get an opportunity for them to relocate it or put in a new service for your house direct to the street (at no or negligable cost to you) and get a new pipe in the bargain, I would jump at it. Not only for the future digging up issue, but also because unless lead pipe (which brings up health issues) it is likely to start going out in the foreseeable future from deterioration or corrosion. Even lead pipe corrodes away in modern public water supply water chemistry, though over a long time, so a new pipe (hopefully seamless HDPE) would be a good thing for you, in my opinion.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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