Some items for owner to consider when selling easement to developer


June 17, 2001

Dear Mr. Azrael,

A developer wants to get a 20-foot-wide by 300-foot-plus easement from me to run a sewer line through the back of my property so he can hook up approximately 22 single homes to it.

If not, he can install a lift pump to go with the other 50-plus homes he is building. He is willing to hook me up to city sewer, but I have a working septic system with no problems.

Do you know any figures I can go by to know what the easement is really worth?

David L. May Havre de Grace

Dear Mr. May,

An easement over your property is worth whatever the developer is willing to pay for it.

Probably there is a substantial cost-saving to the developer by placing the sewer line on your property, rather than installing and arranging to maintain a sewage pumping system on-site. The developer's cost-saving may set the upper limit on the amount he will pay for an easement on your property. A civil engineer could review the developer's site plan and specifications and help you estimate the cost-savings.

You should consider whether the proposed 20-foot-wide and 300-foot-long easement will have any detriment to the use of your property. For instance, you will not be able to build improvements (such as a swimming pool or house addition) within the easement area. You may not be able to place plantings or trees in the easement.

You also should determine if the developer needs temporary easements to bring equipment on your property while the sewer line is being installed. The developer can supply a plat showing the location of temporary and permanent easements. The developer should agree to repair any damage to your property caused by construction of the sewer line.

If you and the developer reach an understanding, the location, size and terms of the sewer line easement will be specified in a written agreement. All owners of your property will have to sign this agreement. The easement will be recorded in the county land records. The easement agreement will bind all future owners.

You should have your attorney review an easement agreement before it is signed.

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