County looks to shore up utility easement records
The Leavenworth County Commissioners have one thing to say to new property owners in the county: let the buyer beware … at least when it comes to utility easements.
On Monday the commissioners discussed a situation that developed after they approved a lot split.
After the split, there was a question of whether the planning and zoning department could issue a building permit for the property when there was a utility pole in the middle of the property, but no recorded easements for that pole filed at the register of deeds office.
So despite knowing there is a utility on the property the easement for that utility doesn’t exist because it was not recorded.
Commissioner J.C. Tellefson noted that this could be a big problem to some residents.
“You don’t find that there is a waterline on your property until you hit it or until it bursts and you find out that you’ve built your house over it,” Tellefson said.
Counselor David Van Parys said that it wasn’t that unusual in the county because there were probably many utility lines running through properties in the county that were never recorded with the register of deeds office that may still have been legally recorded.
“If there is a court order then that is a record, it’s just not at the register of deeds,” Van Parys said.
He went on to say that the county would have no liability in the matter as long as it did not guarantee that every utility easement was recorded on the permit.
Van Parys said that the county needed to include a disclaimer stating there is no guarantee that all easements are shown.
The commissioners voted, 3-0, for staff to make every effort to find all recorded easements.
• Listened to quarterly reports from Jeff Culberston, director of the county’s geographical information systems department; Diane Collins, director of human resources; Chuck Magaha, Emergency management director.
• Voted, 2-0, to update the holiday vacation policy as requested by Collins.
In other business Monday:
In business Thursday the Leavenworth County Commissioners:
• Unanimously approved the preliminary and final plat of the Pickman split.
• Unanimously approved the final plat of the Auburn Hills replat.
• Unanimously approved the proposed updates to the special development district in County Road 1. The updates designated the area between 204th and 214th Streets north of Metro Avenue to the city limits of Tonganoxie as area 1 and the rest of the SDD would be are 2. If Tonganoxie and the county agree on an interlocal agreement then city standards would be applied to development in area one, while the standards specifically made for the special development district would apply to area 2.
• Unanimously voted to send a letter to the Tonganoxie City Council for its review of grandfather protection of the special development district property owners in area 1.
• Unanimously accepted the updates to the Leavenworth County comprehensive plan. The new updates included extending the time for the interlocal agreement implementation plan to five years from one to two years; develop trail standards and require easements for trails on all new plats where appropriate and/or feasible; include bicycle shoulders on all county road where appropriate and/or feasible.”
Commissioner Clyde Graeber was not in favor of these additions because he felt it could become costly for the county.
“We buy into these things without ever really looking at it what we are trying to create or might create, and that concerns me,” he said. “Government strikes again.”
Commissioners J.C. Tellefson and John Flower said it would be up to staff and the board to decide if the additions of bike lanes or trail standards would be appropriate or feasible, and cost would be considered in that decision.
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