Moving Utility Pole?

supergrrl7September 27, 2012

We are in the beginning stages of thinking through how we want to orient our house on the small, infill lot we own. I have given it a lot of thought and the place where I would ideally like to place our driveway is currently the home of a utility pole (in the treelawn).

Does anyone know if it would be possible to convince the utility companies (electric & cable, I think) to move the pole or should I just resign myself to having the driveway on the other side of the house?

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First, check the land records for your lot and find out exactly where the utility easements run across your property. Chances are, the utility company owns an easement where the utility pole is located and does not have one where-ever it is that you would like the pole moved to.

The utility company is NOT going to agree to move the pole to a place where it does not have an easement. PERIOD. To do so would open the utility company to potential litigation. (Note that the power lines must also ONLY run over land for which the utility company has an easement so even if they have an easement for the spot where you want the pole to be, they won't be willing to move it if doing so would cause any of the utility lines to fall outside of their easement.)

So, to get them to move the pole, you have to show that they have an easement where you prefer having the pole (or that you're willing to grant them an easement there), and that moving the pole will not cause the utility lines to cross over any neighbor's property where the utility company does not have an easement.

At that point you stand at least a chance of getting them to agree to move the pole... if you're willing to pay the cost. Don't be surprised tho if the cost of removing the current pole and putting in a new one runs upwards of $4K or $5K.

Good luck. There are often good reasons why certain lots within a neighborhood remain unsold/undeveloped for years and years and eventually come to be considered "infill lots." And very often the reason is that easements on the lot make designing and building problematic. If your city is serious about getting those infill lots developed, you may be able to get some "political help" convincing the utility company to consider moving the pole.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Where do I get access to the land records that would show that kind of easement? There isn't anything on the auditor documents that are online. There are utility poles all along that side of the street, so I wonder if they have and easement along the entire treelawn. I know they have the rights to trim all the trees between the sidewalk and the street and there is nothing a homeowner can do about it.

The lot we are building on was actually the side yard of a house we bought specifically for the adjacent lot, which was already a separate parcel/existing lot of record. The historic neighborhood is a very desirable inner ring suburb in a walkable neighborhood with a lovely little downtown. We will have to go through an extensive architectural review process, but we want to build a house that looks appropriate to the street (mostly houses built before 1930), so I don't think it will be a huge problem.

The real challenge it the restricted amount of space we have with the lot. It is about 55 X 138 feet with a 30 foot setback in the front, 10 foot in the back and 6 feet on each side. We are bordered on one side by a church parking lot and on the other, the neighbor's garage (our former house) sits only a few feet from the property line.

We would prefer to have the driveway along the parking lot with a fence dividing the two. That is exactly where the dumb utility pole is located. If they have the right of way, there is plenty of space to move it about 10 feet north where the treelawn is in front of the parking lot trees. We would also be ok with moving it on our property right next to where the driveway will theoretically go. I don't care if we have to pay for it because we intend to stay in this house forever. I don't want to be annoyed by the driveway placement for the next 40 years if I can help it.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 8:04PM
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I suspect they have an easement along the street. We paid to move the phone and cable boxes at our current house. They were in the middle of the two lots we purchased. It was not a cheap endeavor - each was 1500.00 or so to move. Much better than having the boxes in front of our front door though!

I would call the utility companies and get them to estimate the cost to move it. . .

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 8:55PM
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If you don't ask them, the effective answer is NO. They keep the records on easements-- don't worry about that unless they broach the subject. In my case, I asked them to relocate a line to make my lot fully usable. They moved two poles and added three more to drastically relocate the line to a location that both of us liked better. The existing poles and line were old, the line conductors were from 1942. No charge to me, but I did have to clear about 700 feet through the woods for the new location. I did it with just a chainsaw, farm tractor and trailer in about a week.
So ask. There is no way you will be in worse situation than you are now.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:39PM
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We have a pole that is sitting right in front of our house that we had to move. Like the others said ours cost about $1200 to put up a new pole in a different location. Speaking from personal experience, if you want something moved contact the company asap as ours took forever. We have the power lines moved, but are now dealing with getting the phone/cable lines moved and who can actually take the pole down. A real pain for us. Good luck with it!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:43PM
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We had ours "moved."
Our utility company did not re-use the old pole; their policy is to put up a new one.
They charged us close to $2500.00, but, hey, at least they left the old pole lying there in the yard for us to enjoy!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Your property deed should list any easements and their location. (Or at least it would where I live.)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 1:49PM
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"Where do I get access to the land records that would show that kind of easement?"

It should be on the plat for the property in the notes, and the extent of the easement marked with dashed lines on the drawing.

If you did not pay for any type of survey and a plat drawing when you purchased, you are going to now (and at that point you have no idea WHAT you purchased).

The surveyor will do the required search to determine the presence and bounds of easements.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 2:04PM
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