Utility easements are strips of land used by utility companies to construct and maintain overhead electric, telephone and cable television lines and underground electric, water, and sewer, telephone and cable television lines.
Easements are usually created at the time a plat for a new development is designed. Utility easements almost always exist along streets and along rear lot lines, and sometimes exist between two lots.
The property owner owns all of the land including the utility easements. However, utilities have a right to access and maintain utilities within that portion of land that has been designated a utility easement.
Building on Easements
Building and structure construction is subject to Building Setback Lines, and therefore cannot be built within the easement. Setback lines are shown on your subdivision plat. Subdivision plats are available in the City’s Community Development Department.
An obstruction in the way of a utility company lengthens outages or interruptions by making the utility company move obstructions out of the way. The damage caused by moving an object out of the way or removing a fence is not the responsibility of the utility company. The utility company, by the rights of the easement, may do what it takes to maintain the utility.
Landscaping on Utility Easement
Most utilities encourage decorative landscaping within the utility easement with the understanding that any materials placed within the boundaries of the utility easement are subject to damage and are not the responsibility of the utility owner.
By law, utilities have the right to mark utility locations in a discrete, non-obtrusive manner, within the boundaries of the utility easement. The type, color and location of these markings are regulated under state law. Although utilities will usually make an effort to limit damage to landscaping, all damages to landscaping located within the boundaries of the utility easement are the responsibility of the landowner.
Keeping Easements Clear
Keeping utility easements clear helps utility companies:
- Perform routine maintenance (e.g. replace a pole)
- Construct improvement projects (e.g. install a new sanitary sewer)
- Repair utility lines during emergencies (e.g. remove a tree that has fallen on a power line during a lightning storm.)