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Easements and Infrastructure

By Dick Emens and Cody Smith
Emens, Wolper, Jacobs and Jasin Law

We are all reading about the construction work that will be done on roads, bridges, airports, etc. In order to do much of this construction, government entities and private companies will need to acquire easements and other private property rights.

These discussions provide the platform to remind our landowner clients and friends about the importance of obtaining better compensation and beneficial wording in easements requested by the entities doing the construction.

And, very importantly, not accepting the landowner-unfriendly language that appears in the easements that are initially presented to landowners to sign.

Just last month we were contacted by a very unhappy landowner who asked us to represent him. He was recently approached by a major electric utility about cutting down many large trees that were along an electric line on his property. The client told us that he had not previously signed any easement that would allow such activity. When we contacted the electric company, it provided an easement with a predecessor electric company which gave it exceptionally broad rights—“the right to cut, trim or remove trees”—without any limitation!

The landowner then remembered he had signed the earlier easement for little compensation and said he had not read the document because he assumed the electric company cared about him and his family. This landowner now understands that the electric company cares only about doing its work and that the landowner needs to be protect his rights—and not sign electric or other utility easements unless he has an experienced utility lawyer helping him.