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Should your access issues affect my property? - Comments (0)
Carole McWilliams - 3/13/2009
How much should what you do on your land be restricted by what the neighbors do on their land?
In certain situations in Bayfield, you apparently are liable for what the neighbors do or do not do. Town planning commissioners spent a lot of time on this Tuesday night.
David Black lives on a 2 acre parcel just east of the Buck Highway and is selling part of it as a new home for a non-profit preschool. He needs town approval for the lot split that supercedes a previous subdivision of his that was approved but never recorded.
Over Black’s objection, the previous subdivision was approved on condition that he provide a 60 foot wide easement to land to the north, owned by members of the McCoy family. Town officials wanted to continue that requirement for the pre-school land.
Black argues the McCoy land has access to South Mesa Drive, going back to when that neighborhood was platted in 1978.
That connection is not disputed. But several years ago family matriarch Lavenia McCoy gave part of her land to her two grown grandchildren. As a separate parcel, the town says it doesn’t have dedicated legal access to the outside world.
Town officials decided with Black’s first subdivision that lack of dedicated access to the McCoy grandchildren’s land was a problem (though that land isn’t even in town limits) and that it was Black’s obligation to solve it.
It still is, they said Tuesday as planning commissioners reviewed Black’s plan to provide land for the pre-school. No one questioned the proposal to put the pre-school there.
It was all about whether Black or the pre-school has a responsibility to make sure the McCoy grandchildren’s land has legal access. Does this mean the county approved a lot split without requiring the splitter to provide legal access to the new lot?
Town officials argue that things change. Land ownership changes, and some time in the future the land might be bought by someone outside the McCoy family, despite their assertions that it will stay in the family.
That’s true, but why should that become an obligation on the neighbor who had nothing to do with creating the situation?
Dr. Harry Baxstrom represented the McCoy family at Tuesday’s meeting. His children own the lot in question. He reiterated the family intent that they have access.
It sounded like this specific situation might be resolved by the time the town board considers Black’s plat and land use change on March 17 to accommodate the pre-school.
But it doesn’t settle the larger question of whether a third party becomes liable for what the neighbors do or don’t do on their land – or if they do become liable, why?
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