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  #1  
Old 07-12-2009, 07:50 PM
ChiggerCreek ChiggerCreek is offline
 
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State: Oklahoma
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Default Question, Abandon County Section Line Road

Need some help here!! SE Oklahoma, Choctaw County.

We own a small farm that has an old abonden county road along the southern boundry. There has been fences w/locked gates at the east and west corners of the old road site. If there was ever a REAL County maintained road, it was over 30 years ago. We have owned this property for 15+ years and these fences were in place when we bought the land. The road has been nothing more than a truck path across our property and beyond.

Until our son moved a trailer house on the property three year ago. We have always maintained the county's section of the road up to our property line. beyond our fence + gate it has been considered a private drive and has remained as an one lane dirt path graveled as needed at our expense.

The county has sort of maintained the section road up to our property line. By means of grading, that would be an once or twice a year pass over if we were lucky. We have hauled gravel and replaced old wooden bridges with curverts ourselves due to the lack of county attention. This section of road is shared with three other land owners besides our selves but since we are the only ones that use it daily, we needed the upkeep done. We have done this for over fifteen years.

Three years ago, our son move onto the property. Even after numerous request to the county for asistance to fix the road so they could have better access to their house. The county offered to purchase the gravel and grade it down, if we would haul it. Even that didn't happen!

The county recently (within the pass 3 months) put one load of gravel on the road and that was not placed in the worse section of the road.

Recently, we recieved a request by our new west boundery neighbors to open the gates so they could use the road (dirt path) to thier place. We did as requested with on problem.

This last week the county was on the road placing several loads of rock on the main section of the road use by everyone. I was told by the new neighbor that the county was going to rebuild the old abadoned section line road. Our section has been abandoned for 15+ years and the western section (on his property) has been abondoned for over 30 years. The road will dead end at his gate and serve no other land owner beyond his gate.

My queston is.... since the road was abandoned by the county before we bought our property and the fence and gates were already in place. Would the adondoned road not be concidered under our ownership. We have requested the county to not come across our section of th road with the grader and to not place gravel on our section only. They can do what ever they want to on the other neighbors property and the gates will remain open. The western neighbor (not the county employees) has already removed the fence and gate on our western section of the road and trimed trees along our side of the old right-a-way.

NO SURVEY HAS BEEN DONE TO DETERMIND WHERE THE OLD ROAD RIGHT-A-WAY WOULD HAVE BEEN. All they are going by is the placement of an old dirt path. Is this right? Should the county have given the right to let a private citizen decide where the right-a-way is and authority to cut and remove trees as he see fit?

I know this is probably questions to ask an attorney, but I thought to get some answers from other sources too!!

Thank you for your time and help!!
SL Cheek
SE Oklahoma
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  #2  
Old 07-12-2009, 08:36 PM
David Wimpelberg's Avatar
David Wimpelberg David Wimpelberg is offline
 
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Location: Hamptons, NY
State: New York
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The long and short of it is you will have to ask an attorney that is familiar with such matters.
  #3  
Old 07-13-2009, 09:20 AM
Webbed Feet's Avatar
Webbed Feet Webbed Feet is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiggerCreek View Post
My queston is.... since the road was abandoned by the county before we bought our property and the fence and gates were already in place. Would the adondoned road not be concidered under our ownership. <.....snip.......>

NO SURVEY HAS BEEN DONE TO DETERMIND WHERE THE OLD ROAD RIGHT-A-WAY WOULD HAVE BEEN. All they are going by is the placement of an old dirt path. Is this right? Should the county have given the right to let a private citizen decide where the right-a-way is and authority to cut and remove trees as he see fit?

I know this is probably questions to ask an attorney, but I thought to get some answers from other sources too!!

Thank you for your time and help!!
I doubt you are going to like my help very much. Remember, no matter what I post, it is not legal advice and you need to get some of that appropriate for your location.

The bottom line here is you probably screwed up a very long time ago by your own inaction. There is no such thing as "Abandonment" of public owned land. The "Public" has never abandoned it. As the unused road right-a-way's ownership had been transfered to the county (public) it was publically owned. The concept you are seeking, regarding your use of the land all those years, is called Adverse Possession. Only one thing bad for you. Generally, across the entire U.S. public lands cannot be adversely possesed. Regardless of how long any member of the public uses the land. If it wasn't this way, dimwits would have squated on all the national and state forest lands, very long ago, and claimed ownership.

The part where you screwed up was years ago you should have approached your bordering neighbors to the road right-of-way to see if they would join you in petitioning the county for reversion of the unused road back to your ownerships. From the sounds of things you failed to do so. Assuming I am completely correct, your neighbor is not on your land cutting down any trees. Your neighbor is on publically owned county land cutting down trees. And now you have a neighbor that may want the road left in county ownership in order to have a publically owned access road to the neighbors land. As sometimes, petittioning to have a road closed is not in the best interests of the adjacent neighbors, especially if they have any hopes of parceling additional buildable sites out of their land. Public roads are then a positive for them.

Good luck on this, but unless your neighbor (and any others involved) would want to petition the county to close the road.... I'd say you are screwed as you've been using publically owned land that cannot be adversely possesed. Go see if a local real estate attorney agrees with me.
  #4  
Old 07-13-2009, 11:58 AM
Walter Kirk Walter Kirk is offline
 
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Location: Audubon, N.J.
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As a general rule the government can not abandon property. You can obtain title to property abandonded by a private party by adverse possession or by purchasing the tax lien. Government lands are not subject to adverse possession or taxes.

Of course the county can not encroach on your land without payment. You can't fight city hall in this case.
  #5  
Old 07-13-2009, 01:51 PM
Lee in L.A.'s Avatar
Lee in L.A. Lee in L.A. is offline
 
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A local attorney.
  #6  
Old 07-14-2009, 09:04 PM
ChiggerCreek ChiggerCreek is offline
 
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State: Oklahoma
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Thanks for all the replies.. it was more of what I had expected the answers to be. Now I know how to set my arguments to the facts before Commissioners.

See, they have claimed in three cases within my general area (within 2 miles of our residence) that they could not open a section line road in other cases, because the roads had been 'abandoned' and were no longer considered county roads.

One is an open road, abt. 1/2 mile long and used everyday and has to be maintained by the property owner that it serves. One is an 'abandoned' road, with access still open but never used by the property owners, when asked to gravel and maintain the road for a new home being built, the request was rejected because it had been 'abandoned' to long. Another new resident, also has property along an 'abandoned' section roadtht has been closed and under fence (the same as that beyond our property) and the county will not open it back up for that owner. Last two cases have had to build their own road and maintain it. I know this for a fact because my husband built both roads and keeps them graveled for the owners.

According to an Oklahoma law, the county can open a section line for access. BUT, the land owner must build their own road and maintain it for 5 years before the county can take over the upkeep of it. This was placed into law to keep landowners from getting a free road to property that the may or may not use as a residental access road. This infomation given by 2 different Oklahoma county commissioners.

Since this new neighbor has only placed travel trailer on his property and by his own addmission stated that he would only be coming in once or twice monthly.... if that much, I would say he is wanting a free road to his camp site.

He has access to his property, that has never been denied to him. I just want the commissioner to follow the lw and not give special treatment to his one person, when everyone else in this area has been denied their request. Plus w have 5.5 miles of gravel road that is in need of gravel and lots of attention just so the 11 families that use it can get in and out when it rains. Plus that 5.5 miles is a bus + mail route, NOT A PRIVATE ACCESS ROAD!!

Do yo where I am going with this??

Again, Thanks for your advice on the matter!!
SL Cheek
SE Oklahoma
  #7  
Old 07-14-2009, 10:46 PM
Webbed Feet's Avatar
Webbed Feet Webbed Feet is offline
 
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Your local officials have coined a term "Abandonment" to mean they refuse to restore and provide maintenance. This does not mean the public has given up ownership of the right-a-way and it has reverted back to the parcels of land it was originally taken from. This latter thing would be a road "closure" in my neck of the woods.

Good luck to you.
  #8  
Old 07-15-2009, 05:38 PM
ChiggerCreek ChiggerCreek is offline
 
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State: Oklahoma
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In my neck of the woods, Closure would be when due process of the law (w/public notification of intent) is in tack and the board of commissioner jointly in an open meeting (where the public can attend and interact) cn they discusse + vote to close a section of road.

Abandonment would be when the road is still on their records as open and they receive funds to maintaining those roads but fail to do so for a number of years.

Also, according to what I have been able to find considering the ownership of a section line right-a-way in Oklahoma. The state has set aside the right for the counties to establish section line roads were as needed. Those roads and the use of the right-a-ways are to benefit the general public with the most usage and need. Not to benefit one single landowner. The land of which the section line lies ... is still owned by the adjoining landowners, boundries starting from the center of the easement.

I know of one case across our county line (w/in three miles from us). Where a landowner wanted access to the south side of his property. He had to go to court to get a colsed section of an old county road reopened. He had to pay for the reconstruction of the road and has to maintain it. One of the landowners took him to court for using excessive amount of dirt from his side of the right-a-way and for cutting down his trees along the right-a-way. He won his case .... because the guy didn't haul in his own dirt to build the road up as he wanted it.

I know, ONLY in Oklahoma!!
  #9  
Old 07-15-2009, 09:52 PM
Webbed Feet's Avatar
Webbed Feet Webbed Feet is offline
 
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Default Sonds right to me!

Actually, everything you posted as it would be done in Cklahoma makes perfect sense. Including someone stupidly taking dirt that somebody else owns to build a road for themselves.
  #10  
Old 07-16-2009, 03:58 PM
Walter Kirk Walter Kirk is offline
 
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State: New Jersey
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Is the road shown on the official map? Does the county own the land under the road?
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