Posts tagged ‘Easements’

The code of the west

Apache County, Arizona apparently had too many city slickers moving there with unrealistic expectations about what they should expect.  The county created an interesting document called “The Code of the West” and made it available on their website:

Here are my favorite quotes:

County governments are not able to provide the same level of service that city governments provide. To that end, we are providing you with the following information to help you make an educated and informed decision to purchase rural land.

  • The existence of an unobstructed road to your property does not guarantee the road will remain open in the future or that you will have unlimited access.
  • You may need a four wheel-drive vehicle and/or chains for all four tires to travel safely during storms, which can last for several days.
  • Apache County maintains about 800 miles of off reservation roads- 60(+/-) miles are paved.  If an existing road is unpaved; it is highly unlikely that Apache County will pave it in the foreseeable future.
  • Electric service is not available to all areas of the County; [installing it may require] underground trenching costs, material costs and electrician fees. In some cases, it is necessary to cross your neighbor’s property to bring power to your property (either overhead or underground lines). It is important to verify [or] obtain the proper easements prior to construction of the power lines. Due to ongoing development and limited utility line capacity, electric power that is available today may not be available when you decide to build. If you are purchasing land with the plan to build at a future date, there is a possibility that electric lines (and other utilities) may not be large enough to accommodate you, if others connect during the time you wait to build.
  • Sewer service is not available in most rural areas, [so] you will need an approved septic system or other treatment process. The type of soil available for a leach field is very important in determining the cost and function of a new septic system. In some cases, a standard septic system will not work (based on soil conditions) and an alternative septic system is required. Alternative systems can be very expensive (they could exceed $20,000).
  • Trash removal:  In more remote areas, the most viable option may be to haul your trash to a landfill or a solid waste transfer station. It is … illegal to create your own trash dump, even on your own property.
  • Existing easements on your property may require you to allow construction of roads, power line, water lines, and sewer lines etc., across your land. These existing easements may also prevent you from building your residence, accessory buildings, or fences where you want to locate them.
  • Many property owners do not own the mineral rights on/under their property.  Owners of these rights can change the surface characteristics in order to extract mineral deposits.
  • What surrounds your property now is not a good indicator of what the surroundings will look like in the future. Spectacular views can be replaced by structures if neighboring private parcels are already approved for development. There is also no guarantee that surrounding public lands will remain undeveloped.
  • North facing slopes or canyons rarely see direct sunlight in the winter. There is a possibility that large amounts of snow will accumulate and not melt throughout the winter. In these conditions, keeping an access road open can be difficult and expensive.
  • The Rural “Aroma”- Many people who live in rural areas keep livestock on their land.   Living in rural areas means living with the smells inherent in rural life. Development of new residential areas is not grounds for shutting down existing permitted agricultural uses.
  • Arizona has an open range law. This means that if you do not want cattle, sheep or other livestock on your property, it is your responsibility to fence them out. It is not the responsibility of the rancher to keep his/her livestock off your property. Also, if your dog harasses livestock, the rancher may legally shoot the dog without prior notice to you.

Since the rural west will not change immediately to accommodate your lifestyle or expectations, you should be prepared to adapt accordingly.


November 9, 2008 at 4:13 am Leave a comment


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