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Easement restrictions? personal use only?

Discussion in 'Easements & Right of Way Law' started by markswj, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. markswj

    markswj Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    We purchased a house that had an easement that allows 3 other residents in our development to cross over our property to go to their houses. Although, the problem we are having is that the one property owner has a farm but is having commercial activity cross our easement to go onto his property. This property owner has another entrance to his property but is telling people to use our entrance and chaining off his entrance to thru traffic. Our county prohibits commercial activity and has recently sent out a letter to residents about a maximum of 4 charitable events/per year. They also addressed that if another entrance is available, to use instead of an easement.

    The commercial activity is not farm related i.e. weddings, photography, etc ...

    I thought an Easement is only for personal use not commercial.

    Please help....

    Thank you so much.
    Bill
     
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    What exactly does this "commercial activity" consist of? Not really clear what your reference to "weddings, photography, etc." means.

    There is no county in Pennsylvania or any other state that absolutely "prohibits [all] commercial activity."

    What would make you think that? An easement could be limited to a particular type of use or expressly prohibit certain uses, but we obviously know nothing about the easement applicable to your property. Can you quote the easement language from the deed?
     
    markswj likes this.
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    What county do you live in?
    Any restriction of commercial activity in a residential zone would be a local ordinance issue.
    You can discuss your concern with local code enforcement to see what may apply and what your options are.
    You can also have them check the language of the easement to see if it limits use in any way.
     
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  4. markswj

    markswj Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you so much for replying so quickly. I live in Sewickley Heights, PA and I will get a copy of the letter that was sent out to all the residents a few months ago.

    This is the wording from the Comprehensive Plan for Sewickley Heights:

    "There are no commercial or industrial land uses in the Borough.
    Residential land uses have not developed and cannot be expected to develop in
    a manner to support commercial activities within the Borough. Shopping and
    convenience facilities are available in the neighboring Borough of Sewickley and
    in other nearby municipalities which serve the day-to-day needs of local
    residents."

    The letter that I will upload states that the borough allows up to four charitable events per year and the commercial activity that the "farm" is holding is unrelated to "farm activity". i.e. They are holding weddings on their property and charging a fee plus other events. They have already help 11+ events this year with over 1,500 cars going over the easement.

    My problem and question is they are using my easement on my property to bring in commercial traffic for their profit and I am responsible for maintenance of the easement and it is a private road

    As I recall the easement said that it was for family and guests but guests should not include commercial guests.

    Thank you so much.

    Bill
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The time to concern yourself with any covenants, restrictions, easements, or other encumbrances (in regards to real estate) is BEFORE your purchase the real property.

    It is a wise expenditure to buy $500 of guidance, rather than $5,000 or $50,000 of legal expertise AFTER the property is allegedly yours!!!!

    Never buy any real estate until you've engaged a competent, licensed real estate attorney to review each and every aspect of the proposed purchase/transaction.

    I suggest you read what a couple PA licensed attorneys have to say about easements in your state.

    Easements and Restrictive Covenants | Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. | Pottstown Pennsylvania

    http://www.klgates.com/files/Public...-40f0-b739-13cd66d085f0/Richardson_043007.pps
     
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  6. markswj

    markswj Law Topic Starter New Member

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  7. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    This language from the comprehensive plan is apparently just part of an analysis of the area dating back to 1994 when the development was being planned. It is not anything enforceable regarding your situation.

    If you find the letter you mentioned and can reference any authority it cites then it might lead somewhere.

    Otherwise the language regarding the easement in your deed is most important.

    Have you discussed any of this with the neighbor?
     
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  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    The easement is not the Plan. The easement is not the Letter.

    The easement is the recorded easement. You need to get it and read it and not rely on what you "recall" that it says.
     
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  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    So...this is a small municipality, not the county, that prohibits commercial use. FWIW, Wikipedia describes this borough as "one of the wealthiest municipalities in Pennsylvania," with a median household income being in excess of $115k. Whether a "Comprehensive Plan" constitutes an enforceable law is something I can't comment on without researching it, but "mightymoose's" response suggests that it isn't.

    Bottom line: if these uses violate a local ordinance, you can contact someone with the municipal government and request that the neighbor be cited. If the uses violate the terms of an easement, then your recourse is to sue for an injunction, in which case I think a letter from your attorney would be the appropriate first step.
     
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