Blanket Easement Court Decisions
Hi everyone. First time posting here I think. I am a PLS in Arkansas, 19 years in the profession, 4 years licensed. Long story short, the local power company recently installed two guy anchors on my personal property (leaving 150' of ruts and a hammer that my mower didn't like very much). I have found a blanket easement to said power company from 1984 giving right to "construct, operate, and maintain" lines on the property. The interesting twist is that the pole in question is on the neighboring property. The only pole on my property is near the southwest corner, with the pole in question being about 300' east (property is 1.2 Ac, approx 120'x430' W/E). The overhead line crosses my property near the south line for about 100' before exiting as it runs to the pole in question. Said pole is 15' south of my line, and per the previous owners testimony, there hasn't been a guy wire to that pole on my property since 1991. So my question now is how far do blanket easement rights go? My understanding is that it gives the grantee, (I will only be speaking of utility companies, not any other easement rights), the right to lay and maintain the line as it was constructed, and not to expand the area of use or completely reroute the line. This is a bit of a gray area. It is an existing line which they aren't moving (simply maintaining), yet they are assuming to install new guys that have not been necessary for 30 years. The line is generally straight, running W/E. I spoke with a lineman in the area who supposed that the reasoning was to tighten up the line a bit. Yet tightening the existing guys on the other side of the fence should have sufficed without needing to install two more anchors, one of which isn't even being used. What I am looking for now is legal precedent or court cases, specifically in Arkansas, which define the extent to which a blanket easement without description conveys rights to utility companies. I am hoping to be able to get them to remove the lines and if I can't, to at least force them to define the easement specifically and revoke any future blanket rights to the property. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it!
I was rereading this and realized one of my statements could be confusing. The previous owner said that going back as far as 1991, there has never been a guy to that pole on the property. As far as I can tell, there never has been.
You've mentioned there is a blanket easement on "the" property. Is that your property?
If it is I may warn you that the courts do not necessarily consider non-use as abandonment. Being as the line is near, but isn't on your property. My next question is: are you a subscriber of that utility company's service?
If so, it can get sticky. It would be difficult to argue that you don't want the utility company on your property yet you depend on them for service. The legal term is estoppel.
Damages are a different argument. Let's say the blanket easement exists upon your property. Even though a dominant estate (the electric co.) has the right to be there and maintain their appurtenances, it does not have the right to burden a property owner with incidental damages stemming from their actions. Contact the legal department of the utility. They will most likely at least hear you out.
I have worked in utility R/W for a good long time. I have read tons of blanket easements from the '40s and '50s that are still in effect today. The power companies I work with are always keen to get rid of those old dinosaurs and correctly define the limits of their granted rights. And anchors are always a big factor and a pain in the butt. The co-op found this out after buying a couple of new combine headers for wheat harvesters because of anchors that ventured outside of the described easement.
Even if they have an easement I don't think that gives them the right to trash your yard. Make them come back and fix the ruts, imo.
... It is an existing line which they aren't moving (simply maintaining), yet they are assuming to install new guys that have not been necessary for 30 years....
Just because there hasn't been one doesn't mean that it isn't proper for there to be one. Maybe you have just been lucky that the pole hasn't snapped. I can just hear the outrage when some uppity landowner tells you how to survey. My guess is that they have every right to install that anchor, and a good reason for doing so.
Now, if they chewed up your yard doing it, or left debris around that damaged your mower, that's a different thing.