Can the Local Water District Allow a Cellular Company to Use a Road Easement When the Other Property Owners don’t Agree?

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“Years ago a Water District acquired a residential parcel for construction of a water tank. The sale was forced under threat of eminent domain. The residential property has an easement for ingress/egress to an private road shared by over twenty other residential properties. All owners contribute toward the road maintenance. The Water District (public utility) now is permitting a cellular company (private business) to apply for County permits to construct a cellular antenna facility on the property. Can the Water District give permission to the cellular company to use the private road to install and maintain the cellular facility when all of the other easement holders are in opposition?”

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The answer to your question depends on whether the easement you were granted is “exclusive” or “non-exclusive,” and you’ll need to look at the easement grant to determine that.

An exclusive easement grants the easement owner(s) the right to exclude all other possible users of the easement (including the burdened property owner). A non-exclusive easement gives the owner(s) the right to use someone else’s property, but other people can use it, too.

If the document doesn’t specify, it’s probably non-exclusive, but that’s a question of fact and may be determined differently under different local laws.

More likely than not, your easement is non-exclusive, which means that the property owner (the water district) can use the road itself, or grant other people, like the cellular company, the right to do so. That having been said, to the extent they do use it they probably need to contribute to the maintenance and repair costs, but again you will need to look at the easement document to see if it says anything about this.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.