Watch out for dead ends

May 26, 1998

HOMEBUYERS who count on their quiet streets remaining free from major traffic use are well advised to double check the subdivision plat -- as well as their own lot survey. There are any number of these little-traveled dead-ends and local-access drives that are silently reserved -- albeit in the indefinite future -- for extension and connection to other thoroughfares.

These existing official road plans strongly refute a complaint of homeowners that "we didn't know about it."

Recent case in point is the Cliveden Reach area of Westminster, where residents are angry at plans for a 200-home subdivision and commercial center that would require opening Meadow Branch Road to busy through traffic. Though the secluded road was officially designated for future connection to a main artery, residents told a public hearing this month that they were unaware of it.

The practical problem is that so many lots and neighborhoods are uncumbered by such potential intrusions. Would-be buyers look at neighborhoods as they exist, listen to realty agents and perhaps rely on the single-lot survey of the property. If they do bother to inspect official maps of neighborhoods, the inclusion of so many possible easements, rights of way and road plans can be confusing.

There's no easy answer. You pay your money and you take your chances -- unless you are single-minded in buying a house without any such possible encroachments, which severely limits the selection of properties.

It's not just road extensions, either. Many long-time homeowners may be surprised to learn of generous rights of way granted for utility lines on their land, or long-forgotten plans for curve-straightening routes that could significantly affect their property lines.

Real estate sellers should fully disclose these designated possibilities, even if a few potential buyers may get cold feet. Buyers are entitled to know what events could change the nature of their community, so they can make informed, responsible decisions.

Pub Date: 5/26/98

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