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Legal ROW Concept

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by mbcijim, Nov 19, 2009.

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  1. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

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    [​IMG]

    Many scroungers here think - if the town cut the wood at the side of the road, it belongs to the city and I can have it if the city left it. That's simply not true. Above is a property I am the owner of. On the top of the photo is a public road that cuts through my property. The city has the legal right to pave and use the right of way as it so pleases, there is usually a legal document filed somewhere in the court house that gives them that right in Pennsylvania. However, I clearly own the right of way and my neighbor across the streets road frontage.

    While the city can pretty much do what it wants on the 40' ROW, they are MY trees as they are on MY property. The city did not buy the property they bought the right to have a street on the property and do any necessary maintenance. Often, this is at a reduced price. I am going through this right now with an electric utility that wants to buy an electric line ROW. I can still build parking lots or retention ponds, etc... on the ROW, I just can't impede the electric lines or their poles.

    Think about a farmer - how often do they plant corn or soybeans right up to 5' or so of the edge of pave, all the time right? Often the ROW is pretty far into his corn or soybeans. What do you think the farmer would do if you came and took all the corn out of the ROW? How are trees any different? Maybe I planted them and now they block vehicle's vision so the city cut them down. They are still MY trees.

    Perhaps there is a lawyer here who can explain this better than I can, but I own a lot of property and have some experience with this kind of thing.

    I think you guys confuse the fact that many of these circumstances the owner is a large corporate owner of 1,000 acres or it's state game lands or forest or similar, and lots of times that is true. Many of them don't enforce ownership because they don't mind that you took the wood. The problem is when the guy owns an acre and lives two miles away (or on top of the hill).

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  2. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    I think most here do understand this and that is why they tell folks to ask the property owner permission to take the wood. The info provided here is good but makes it sound like most of us are thieves when in reality, most of us ask...
  3. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
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    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    Don't really know how right of ways works (we don't have them) but I stay aggressive when scrounging,knock on doors leave notes call I know most people in my town.Trees down and already cut hardwood I'd be doing follow up every few hrs.
  4. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Croton-on-Hudson, suburbs of NYC
    The survey of my 1/4 acre in NY clearly shows that my property line is about 10 feet from the shoulder of one and about 6 feet from the shoulder of the two roads surrounding my corner lot. I had an Elm tree die on one corner of my lot. I wasn't sure of it was near the road, right on my property line. I got in touch with the town and they told me that it was on my property and my problem. If it was over the line it would have been the town's tree and their problem.
    When NY state rebuilt the highway that my families house was on we were told that the sate could rebuild the portion of the driveway that was within the right of way however they saw fit is it was not our property.
    Maybe the rules in suburbia are different than in more rural areas where parcels of land are large enough for roads to pass through them?
  5. quads

    quads Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Central Sands, Wisconsin
    In Wisconsin, unless the town or county purchases the land in special circumstances, the landowner owns the land used for right-of-way including the road bed (which is why it’s called a right-of-way) but the property owner does not pay property taxes on it.

    The trees on the right-of-way are maintained by the town or county, but the landowner owns the wood. If the county is going to cut trees, they inform the landowners and ask what they should do with the wood. It belongs to the property owners. If the landowner does not want the wood, the county will dispose of it and does not leave it laying by the side of the road. If the property owner requests, the county will leave the wood near the edge of the right-of-way for the landowner to pick up at his convenience.

    Here, if you see wood that the town or county has left laying by the side of the road, you can be almost certain that it was left there by the request of the property owner and that he wants the wood.
  6. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

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    My apologies, that was not my intention. Just to educate...
  7. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    In my township in PA I think we have a variety of circumstances ranging from township-owned road 'lots' which may or may not have a road on them, to ownership of the entire road by private citizens, generally the two landowners on either side of the road. If the road is in privte ownership there is a right-of-way owned by the township but, except for road-related maintenance, generally maintained by the property owner. Wood growing and/or cut down and left within the right-of-way is clearly the property of the landowner. Most of those landowners don't want the wood, but it is their wood.

    A related situation happens when residents in nearby townships haul wood to the curb for disposal. In several townships bordering this one, the township will haul or chip and haul brush that is brought to the curb. Often sizeable wood pieces are brought out as well. I think these are up for grabs, just as your trash is, legally, up for grabs. If I see something that looks large enough to burn piled by the curb, I don't hesitate to take it before the chippers get to it. Ethically I have no problem with this since the wood has been throw in the trash, so to speak, and I think it is fully legal as well. If any of this wood needs to be cut smaller before I can haul it, I always ask permission (especially if a chainsaw will be involved). I am not sure what the legal issues regarding operating a chainsaw on a public street might be, but it seems polite to ask permission and I can see how it could be a liability issue for the property owner if I cut myself.
  8. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    Loc:
    N Illinois
    The law certainly varies from state to state , in South Dakota where I used to go hunting with my buddy who is the states attorney the ROW extends 20 feet on each side of the road and the crops belong to the farmers but the hunters have the right to hunt on that land and take any animal in the ROW and even the right to go into past the ROW to go after a wounded animal. They also have a ROW every mile squared even when there is no road there and even when the property on both sides is owner by the same person . Seemed very strange to me we could just drive our truck right down the ROW thru the middle of a farmers property and BTW they are now allowed to plant crops in the ROW at all .
    Where I live in Illinois the property shows that the ROW extends 10 from the road and in between me and one neighbor there is a 10' ROW recorded and there are no utilities located there but along another property line shows no ROW but there is power, cable, and phone service running along the line. The property record shows I own the property out to the middle of the road. The crazy thing is when the power company came out and "trimmed" my trees along the power pole and cut one down I asked them to leave all the wood over 4" diameter and they left nothing at all for me.
  9. PeteD

    PeteD New Member

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    Loc:
    Northeastern MA
    Their are ROW and then there are easements, also. The ROW in front of my house is not part of my property, the town owns 25 feet into what appears to my yard. It is nice because I can use that area and it effectively makes my yard bigger. Of course the town can cut trees, pave, or do whatever that want with that area. I am set far back from the road, so I really don't care about that either.

    I think what the OP is describing (where he owns the land) is usually called an easement in MA, FWIW. I am not an attorney and I didn't even stay at an HI Express last night.

    I would never take wood from anywhere near where I leave (even on side of road) without asking.

    Pete
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Very close to Michigan.

    We live on a narrow dead-end road. A few years ago the county wanted to cut some trees along the road. I told them no that I did not want them cut. The trees still stand.

    A neighbor owns 1/4 mile on a road near us and the county wanted to pave the road (it is now gravel). Before they would pave, they wanted to claim the entire width of the right-of-way and dig small ditches. In order to do so, this neighbor would have lost a lot of trees. He said no. The road did not get paved either.

    We thought we owned to the center of the roadway but a few years ago the country surveyed and we found that at the dead end we owned the entire road! There is another home right at the dead end and we found their mailbox actually sits on our property! Crazy, but true. No, we did not ask them to move it (just pay us rent. lol)
  11. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    A farmer in my area had to put signs up to keep (most) people away from the trees the county had crews fell (power line interference) near the road. Nice oaks mostly. In a right of way area though you can be cited/arrested for trespass. People know it's not their land and will often use a lame ignorant excuse to steal and the taxes they pay may not even be for the road they are trying to collect wood from. There are a lot of scroungers in this forum but like CTwoodburner says most (if not all) suscribe to the concept of property rights. Infact some of them are victims of those that have a disregard for property rights themselves as they have had the very wood they have owned and cut or bought or properly scrounged stolen from them. Maybe you will have to post warnings about trespass to protect your rights. It won't stop the most determined but the ones who might stray a little would at least be informed of the difference between public and private ROW property and may not want to risk a legal confrontation.
  12. Archer39

    Archer39 Feeling the Heat

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    If wood is cut down along power lines on state game lands is that wood up for the takings?
  13. quads

    quads Minister of Fire

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    That's true, the road surface does not necessarily follow the center of the right-of-way (and usually doesn't). In front of my house, the center of the right-of-way is all the way over on the other side of the pavement, therefore I own the land under both lanes of the road. The edge of the right-of-way on my side of the road is within a couple feet of the pavement.

    The county surveyor told me that measuring from the center of the pavement is not the way to find where the right-of-way is because the road surface meanders within it. In the old days when they graded the road, they would wander to the far side of the right-of-way in front of the farmhouses so the dust from the traffic going by didn't bother the residents so much and get on their laundry hanging out to dry etc. We have been through it several times with the road in front of our house. The county wanted to cut the trees in my front yard because they were within 33' of the center of the road, but fortunately my land had been surveyed and I was able to prove where their "right" ended. In recent years, the county had the right-of-way surveyed on this road and it's amazing to stand in the middle of the road, looking down it, and see how much the road wanders between the right-of-way boundaries, veering away from the oldest houses.
  14. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    No problem - was not really telling you to stop calling us thieves. It is just many folks here go out of their way to point out to folks to make sure they ASk first. Good bunch of people on this site...

    As I said, goods info you provided...

    George
  15. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I live in town and the ROW extends from the EDGE of the road/street up to the opposite side of the sidewalk. That means that the street isn't ON my property at all, but that my property begins at the street. The sidewalk IS on my property, though.

    In the back of my lots there is an easement for electrical AND for city, This means I can't do anything to block traffic (looks like my yard, but basically is an alley) or to interfere with the electrical running through it.

    the stupid thing is that the easement in the rear completely separates my property from another city lot that I've wanted to buy for some time. It's my understanding of the code (I've asked a billion times to see city code books and have been given the run-around) that I can't build anything on that lot because it's not an adjoining lot. Can't even build a utility-less storage shed there, they claim. What a bunch of hooey.
  16. bambam

    bambam Member

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    I think that just to the right of the creek there is an inside corner of trees that might be a good spot for a treestand.
  17. Ken45

    Ken45 Minister of Fire

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    As has been said, it varies with state law, but also may be different in different locations in the same state.

    In one subdivision we lived in, our deed stated that the property line started 6' from the street.

    Where we live now, our deed specifies that we own to the middle of the county highway. The road has a lot of curves and our deed has a LOT of different points on it.

    Ken
  18. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I don't think so. The PA hunting regs say that nothing but edible berries and mushrooms (and game) can be collected from state game lands. I need to ask a friend who works for the game commission about this, since there are lots of game lands here and lots of roads and powerlines cross them, so lots of wood is cut along those roads and powerlines.
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