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Sharon Rabe


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Utility Easements Issues

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines an easement as "an interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use or enjoyment." With farmland often encompassing large tracts of open space, the land is often utilized for utility easements. Farmland owners are sometimes approached for the purpose of utility easement agreements. Examples include: The placement of electric, telephone and cable television lines. Before agreeing to a utility easement contract, there are some legal factors to consider. Please check out the following resource bulletin.

Things to look for in the easement document and discuss with your lawyer:

  1. Duration of the easement.
  2. Price and payment date.
  3. Exact route of the centerline of the easement. Think ahead! What might you want to use the land for in the future?
  4. Width of the easement.
  5. Height and spacing of poles or towers.
  6. Location of guy wires/anchors.
  7. Number, capacity and minimum height of wires. Location of transformers.
  8. Limitation on the use of the easement by 3rd parties without grantor’s specific consent.
  9. Duty to remove poles, towers, footings, etc. upon the end of the term of the easement or abandonment of use. Duty to restore land surface.
  10. If the easement entails sub-surface construction, minimum depth of the sub-surface installations.
  11. Can the producer farm over a sub-surface installation?
  12. Can a producer farm under transmission wires?
  13. Who has responsibility for weeds, etc. around poles or under towers?
  14. How are damages calculated and when will damages be paid for crops or surface damaged during installation of poles, towers or sub-surface installations? Duty to restore land surface.
  15. How are damages calculated and when will damages be paid for crops or surface damaged during maintenance or repairs of the utility facilities? Duty to restore land surface.
  16. Dates that installation of utility towers, poles or sub-surface facilities will occur.
  17. Don't sign an easement until you have reviewed its terms with your lawyer.