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    hader's Avatar
    hader Posts: 22, Reputation: 3
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    #1

    Jun 4, 2010, 10:51 PM
    Who owns the alley?
    My neighbor owned a water system that supplied water to the town for years, it was put out of service in 1997, he claims that the Alley (where the old water system ran) between him and us is his and will not allow us using it to run utilities to our lots. The lots, streets and alleys are all part of the original plat in 1926. What can I do? Can public right of way be subject to private claim? This is Texas.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #2

    Jun 5, 2010, 07:02 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by hader View Post
    My neighbor owned a water system that supplied water to the town for years, it was put out of service in 1997, he claims that the Alley (where the old water system ran) between him and us is his and will not allow us using it to run utilities to our lots. the lots, streets and alleys are all part of the original plat in 1926. what can i do? can public right of way be subject to private claim? this is Texas.
    Either the alley is a publicly dedicated right-of-way or is owned by the adjacent lot owners with an easement for public utilities. Either way, it doesn't give him a right to block your use. If he was using those portions of the alley that are not adjacent to his lot, it would be inconsistent of him to now claim that you can't run utilities under the portion that is adjacent to his lot.

    How does he think he got the right to run the water system before '97? And how did his system get "put out of service"?
    hader's Avatar
    hader Posts: 22, Reputation: 3
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    #3

    Jun 5, 2010, 07:16 AM

    I don't know but he was the owner of the water system till the state through grant built another and his was abandoned due to water quality and broken pipes.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #4

    Jun 5, 2010, 07:20 AM

    Another system was put into service in 1997? He is tardy asserting whatever conceivable claim he may have. The statute of limitations would have run.
    hader's Avatar
    hader Posts: 22, Reputation: 3
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    #5

    Jun 5, 2010, 07:35 AM

    He is not claiming anything in regard to the water system, he is saying that he owns the alleys and will not let others use of the alleys. The only reason I mentioned the water system is that his old pipes run in those alleys. Sorry about the misunderstanding! Thank you for the reply!
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #6

    Jun 5, 2010, 07:39 AM

    What does the plats show? What does your deed say about easements and rights of way?

    Unless he can produce a deed that specifies his property line includes the alleys, I doubt he can enforce the use.

    What are you wanting to use the alley for?
    hader's Avatar
    hader Posts: 22, Reputation: 3
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    #7

    Jun 5, 2010, 07:48 AM

    The plats show my lots to be 50'x140' (same as all lots in town) and 20' alleys. My deed only gives the size of the lots nothing about easements or rights of way. My other problem is that the county commissioner is their buddy and the water board refuse to use the alley for water hook up without an easement from him.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,301, Reputation: 7692
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    #8

    Jun 5, 2010, 10:34 AM

    Alleys are shown on the public records at the recorders of deed. And they can't stop utilities from going to the property.. I would have an attorney and consider suing the neighbor, and the utilities
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    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #9

    Jun 5, 2010, 10:41 AM

    What does your twons streets department of city hall say about the alley? If they own it the other guy can't even use open and notorious possession as an angle.
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    hader Posts: 22, Reputation: 3
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    #10

    Jun 5, 2010, 11:08 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by ballengerb1 View Post
    What does your twons streets department of city hall say about the alley?? If they own it the other guy can't even use open and notorious possession as an angle.
    We don't have a city or town, the town fell a part in the 1930's and never recovered, the county maintain some streets but not all. The water board is made up of a bunch of good-ole-boys.
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    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #11

    Jun 5, 2010, 11:48 AM

    When you said town in an earlier post I just assumed you still had a town. There were town records that must still exist at the county or state level. Towns owned property and had deeds and surveys, these don't just die and could still show ownership.
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    hader Posts: 22, Reputation: 3
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    #12

    Jun 5, 2010, 07:55 PM

    He just came over and offered me an easement to run my water line, my response was how can you give me what is my right, the water board said they will be happy (now) to hook me up if I get the easement from him; I told them I was doing this so they can enforce what is legally theirs, I could have accepted the offer but that would be an American, what is easy for me today would make someone's life difficult tomorrow, what is right is right but this is not right!
    To all please help me with your thoughts and opinions, Thanks!
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    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,301, Reputation: 7692
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    #13

    Jun 5, 2010, 08:39 PM

    An easement on land that is already an alley is pointless but served the same purpose, you should have took it, got the utilities put in, and then sued for proper zoning for the land. That is the American way, get what you want and still sue.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #14

    Jun 6, 2010, 04:48 AM

    OK, so the plats show the alleys as SEPARATE blocks of land. Not sure how your county identifies land, but mine identifies each by a School District, section, block and lot. Each separate lot has an owner. The county NEEDS to have a record of the owner for each separate block of property for taxing purposes. So you should be able to go to the Recorder of Deeds or Taxing authority and find out the owner of the alley. Once you have that information you can then decide how to proceed. If the neighbor is listed as the owner, then get the easement. You may find the defunct town is listed as the owner, which means its public land. Or they may be no owner listed. The main point is, that unless the neighbor is listed as the owner, he can't control the use of the alley. Nor can he grant an easement for something he doesn't own unless he can provide a document that gives him control over the alley's use.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #15

    Jun 6, 2010, 05:27 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by hader View Post
    he just came over and offered me an easement to run my water line, my response was how can you give me what is my right, the water board said they will be happy (now) to hook me up if i get the easement from him; i told them i was doing this so they can enforce what is legally theirs, i could have accepted the offer but that would be an American, what is easy for me today would make someone's life difficult tomorrow, what is right is right but this is not right!
    To all please help me with your thoughts and opinions, Thanks!
    He offed you this easement free of charge? Take it.

    The alternative, litigation, makes no sense. There is no controversy between the two of you.
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    jmjoseph Posts: 2,727, Reputation: 1244
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    #16

    Jun 6, 2010, 05:57 AM

    I am a surveyor, not a lawyer. Please keep that in mind.

    What I would do is look at the tax records. The property records, if complete, SHOULD go back before the easement, and township were established. See what the records show. See who has been paying the taxes on this "private/public" water easement.

    Have the local (County) surveyor assist you in your search. I would bet that he/she could help you better FIRST. Before you call an attorney, and before you make any enemies.

    If this landowner deeded property to the county, it would most likely be in the tax office's records. And STILL be the county's asset. He cannot claim adverse repossession against a municipality.

    Ask the employees at the tax office to assist you in your search.
    Have them cross-reference the deeds and plats also. It may take days even if the records are in order.

    I agree with Scott and AK. Don't make this harder than it has to be.

    There may be some shady business going on, it's hard to tell from where we sit.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #17

    Jun 6, 2010, 06:04 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by jmjoseph View Post
    ... See who has been paying the taxes on this "private/public" water easement.
    ...
    If it is a dedicated alley, no one has been paying taxes. It is public.

    If it is only an easement the taxes would be assessed upon the subservient fee simple: the neighbor's lot.

    In any case I really doubt whether the tax history would be of any help.

    Another possibility OP should look for would be that the alley was somehow vacated, in which case it would have reverted to ownership by the adjoining lot owners.
    jmjoseph's Avatar
    jmjoseph Posts: 2,727, Reputation: 1244
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    #18

    Jun 6, 2010, 06:10 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by AK lawyer View Post
    If it is a dedicated alley, no one has been paying taxes. It is public.

    If it is only an easement the taxes would be assessed upon the subservient fee simple: the neighbor's lot.

    In any case I really doubt whether the tax history would be of any help.
    It's worth a shot to check the records to see who has, or hasn't been paying the tax bill. I doubt it's a dedicated alley or easement. It sounds like a rural, good ol' boy deal on the hood of a truck.

    Oh well, I'll leave it you legal eagles.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #19

    Jun 6, 2010, 06:21 AM

    The key here is to establish ownership. Whether by deed or tax records. If the county does not list the neighbor as the owner, then the neighbor will have to show documentation that he controls the property. If he has not been paying taxes on the property, and he claims ownership or control, he may find himself with a whopping tax bill.
    LisaB4657's Avatar
    LisaB4657 Posts: 3,662, Reputation: 534
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    #20

    Jun 6, 2010, 06:29 AM
    Ok, here's the easiest, fastest, most direct and most conclusive method: call a title company and get a search done on the alley property and your own property as well. The search will turn up the current owner and any easements that have been granted in the past. If the neighbor owns the alley then accept his offer of an easement and say thank you very much. If the town (or former town) owns the alley then tell him no thank you and show your search results to the water board. If they still refuse to hook you up then you sue.

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