Is there such thing as a surface right of way?

I have been trying to research this.. but have not been too successful... hopefully someone specializing in this field will know something about it...

We are preparing to place utility poles on a township right of way (16 foot from center line of road is right of way)...

We got approval from the township, and received a permit fee of around $820 to place the utility poles on the right of way... we staked out our proposed pole line solely on the township right of way... It turns out the farmer owns the property on each side of the road, and claims that the right of way is a "surface right of way" and claims that no utilities are permitted on his land with out his permission...

We talked nicely with the farmer, and he seems to be cooperating... but until there is a signed agreement, the guy could just say no... because we changed our pole line to a much more difficult and undesirable route... which now rests exclusively on his property, and not on the township right of way...

So my question... is there actually such thing as a surface right of way? If so, can you link me to some reading? Or, would it just be best to go directly to the township to see the actual right of way agreement?

I know it was alot of reading.. sorry...



Obviously Steven F has no idea about anything, and enjoys shooting his mouth off more than helping people... NOTHING Steve F has ANYTHING to do with WHAT I ASKED... But he shoots his mouth off like he knows everything... I asked if there is actually such a thing as a surface right of way, not your personal opinion on how a multi million dollar company does business... the OPM I was with never heard of a surface right of way, thus I tried researching it, and found nothing of value... SO I was ASKING if someone WHO ACTUALLY KNEW something about RIGHT OF WAYS to respond... I do WORK for a CLEC, and we DO HAVE the right TO place FACILITIES on RIGHT OF WAY/JOINT USE POLES... STEVEN F should bundle up his account and move on... it in no way is helpful... Also I HOPE you are NOT a lawyer... because YOU KNOW nothing about utilities... but claim you do... NOT ALL PROPERTY borders are easements as you say, so anyone reading THAT should disregard... If you were to DIG on PRIVATE PROPERTY without

4 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You're are taking legal advice from a farmer that is on the OPPOSITE side of the dispute, and going to RANDOM strangers online for clarification? You have even LESS business constructing utilities than the farmer has practicing law.

    If the land in question is part of the township right of way, it is owned by the township. Regardless of ownership, it is nearly universal for ALL property to have a 'utilities easement' along ALL borders of the property. That would mean a REAL utility has the legal right to use the edges of the property WITHOUT permission. If you don't have an attorney ON RETAINER, get out of the business NOW, before you drive EVERYONE involved to PERSONAL bankruptcy.

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  • Pal
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    If the place you want to put the poles is outside of the right of way and on private property then I suggest you offer to pay him for an easement to allow you to plant your poles. The township attorney should be able to tell you if the farmer has any rights to do this. I assume there are other power poles on other stretches of ROW that would be under the same problem if the farmer is correct. Personally I think he is blowing gas but offer him some $$ and see how his song changes.

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  • "Or, would it just be best to go directly to the township to see the actual right of way agreement?"


    Literally 100% of the fully human find it amazingly obvious that's the right answer.

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  • 9 years ago


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