Utility easements are something most business owners probably do not even think about until it affects their site planning and development. Suddenly, they find themselves wondering not only what a utility easement is, but also how to circumnavigate the restrictions that come with these easements.
What is a utility easement?
Utility companies need to be able to transport their products to consumers. For example, a gas company needs to be able to transport gas through underground pipelines. This is why homeowners should be calling before digging in their yards, but these lines also restrict where property owners -- including business owners and developers -- can dig.
Another example would be electrical lines. The utility company is granted an easement -- that comes with certain restrictions for owners -- to be able to run lines to transport electricity. Without necessarily even realizing it at first, these restrictions can easily impact development plans.
How can a utility easement affect site plans?
Utility easements come with certain restrictions. For example, let's say a business owner is interested in opening a car dealership in Plymouth County. However, the electrical company has an easement that allows them to transport their product through electrical lines that run right over the site of where the owner would like to open his dealership. Since the company has the easement and the dimensions of restrictions have been publically recorded, the owner can't just decide to do whatever he or she wants. Rather, the owner will want to work with an attorney who focuses on land use and zoning to see what options are available for this site with these easements.
Who can help with utility easement issues?
The car dealership is just one of many examples. Homeowners also frequently find themselves in the situation of needing the legal guidance of an attorney when trying to figure out exactly what they can legally do to their property, without inadvertently going against a utility easement.
Phillips & Angley is a smaller-sized law firm located in Boston. We focus on land use and zoning issues as they relate to business owners, developers and property owners. Among other areas, we help with site plans and easement issues for both residential and commercial spaces.