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View Full Version : The case of the Rose Bush.


repsac
10-31-2006, 01:50 AM
This is a little "case" that got some serious write up in my local newspaper. It's a wonderful example of a person putting their foot in their mouth claiming they know more than they do. It all centers around one solitary little rose bush. Well, not one, but more of a bed; and, a light pole.

The bed was a nice one. Good and large with a series of rose bushes in it. Bushes which stood almost five feet in their highest point. Now these bushes hadn't really been there long. No, the owner had spent a great deal of time with them. Climbing roses grow fast. VERY fast if you put the right nutrients down. Now, the bush wasn't the only thing in that bed. There was a smallish apple tree, and a large ammount of pansies. Pansies of all colors and sizes. This bed, well it looked beautiful along the owner's yard. Dead center in all this, was a light pole. that pole had been there years, and for years it had caused the owner trouble when mowing around it. That's the reason for the bed. His wife spent all her time out there.

One day, the owner's wife came home to find to her horror that the rose bush was gone. In fact, not only was it gone, but every bit of her little bed was missing. The stone dividers were cast about, the bush cut up and neatly lain beside the road for pickup. Gone too was her apple tree, and the pansies were smashed. Right in the center of them, the tracks of what looked to be a tractor, or even a truck. The light pole was gone as well, replaced by a new funky green one. No letter of explanation, no applogy, nothing. Just a missing bed, the mess, and a light pole.

She ranted, and raved, calling the power company and complaining. There was nothing they could do about it, it wasn't their fault. Again and again she tried, but to no satisfaction. In the mean time, the owner and wife planted some new rose bushes, hoping to rebuild. Lawsuits were threatened, and another apple tree was planted.

It did not last.

Not a week after the first incident, the owner comes home this time to find a county bush hog (mower) neatly cutting down all her plants and apple tree. This time, there was also a letter on the door. She was being...fined?

She tried to stop the mower, but the man ignored her. He, had a job to do and she was not part of it. Once finished he turned and left. Here's where the papers caught it.

She wrote, time and time again, to the papers. It was my plants, she said, my land. Mine mine mine. They had no right! It's illegal. It's this, it's that. Time and time again she called the power company, and time and time again she was told that no, it wasn't her land, that on her power bill was an explanation. Further if she kept calling, the company would file charges for harrassment.

In the end, it took a single letter from a local writer to stop the tide. He, it turned out was an ex lineman. His letter was not long, and yet polite. Caring while also chiding her. What did it say? Just this:

Read the back of your power bill.

The story ends there, with one assuming she read the bill. Many wonder though, what did it say? What was so important back there that she had missed all those years? Well, what it says is this:

<Power Company> by right of law, reserves the right to remove any and all obstructions from the right of way (to not excede 9 linear feet, 18 total) around power poles and lines. This will be done without permission of the owner and can result in charges and fines for obstructing <power company> employees from the due course of their job.

Bliss
10-31-2006, 03:35 AM
Solution is easy, I'd install solar cells and a gas generator. Rescind the contract with the power company, and demand they leave my property and land.

That it is on a contract doesn't means it's right to do. Else all of Phone Jockey's rowdy techs would be justified. :)

repsac
10-31-2006, 04:38 AM
I think the main problem here was the woman didn't understand what the right of way means. I've another story along this lines I'll post soon called "buyer beware." It's in the same vein, but I'll give you a quick teaser here.

In the US at least, cities and state orginizations own a kind of "right of way" around things like power lines, roads, and in some cases railroads. This right of way, though you may mow it or maintain it, isn't actually your property. Rather, it's owned by the state and can be siezed at any point to widen roads, move power lines or whatever. There's not a single thing the owner can do about it either.

For more Right of Way fun, that ended badly, read "buyer beware."

ladodger34
10-31-2006, 06:57 AM
I think what it's called is a utility easement. It depends on the state and the utility, but they generally say that the owner still owns the land but the utility retains the right to access the equipment, etc.

I think the owner should have been more civil about it, but I understand her frustration. When I googled "utility easement", most of them had pretty decent guidelines about what could and could not be done with in the area of the easement. Her best recourse would have been to ask what the restrictions were and go on from there.

While I understand that the utility company was within their rights to do what they did, it would have been a nice gesture to inform the property owner (even after the fact) that "Hey, we had to put up a new pole in your flower bed. We apologize that your garden was torn up, but our company policy states that xxx. We advise that you do not plant xxx to avoid this from happening in the future".

ThePhoneGoddess
10-31-2006, 07:01 AM
right-of-way is a big issue in Montana and Idaho, where my family lives. In Montana, for instance, a lot of people from large cities back east have moved to retire. Many of them do not understand how right-of-way laws and water rights are interpreted out here, and there are constantly battles going between neighbors.

My Mom lives in a small semi-rural housing development. The way property is set up there, there are canals on the backs of most people's property. There are gates at one end of the canal on every person's property. The water is used to water your pasture, or your garden, whatever you've got back there. The water comes down several times per year, and when it comes to you, you go out into the back and open your gate to let the water through to your part of the canal. Then you can use it for what ever you need. When you're done, you call your neighbor and let them know it's their turn for the water, and they go out and open their gate. If you're gone on vacation or something, the association president has legal permission to go onto your property and open your canal gate.

Well my Mom's neighborhood had one lady who decided to build a fence over the right of way for that canal. She was told repeatedly she couldn't do it but she did anyway. Then she refused to let the next person have the water. Her reasoning? The water was on HER private property, so it was hers, and if she didn't send it to the next lot, there was nothing anyone could do about it.

The association had to initiate legal proceedings against her, and when the water came, have the police come out and go onto her property to open her canal gate. It was a big mess, and when she lost in court, she had a huge tantrum and sold her property, telling everyone they were 'nazis' and that she was moving back east where people actually 'respected' pricate property rights. Sheesh.

Gurndigarn
10-31-2006, 11:34 AM
The association had to initiate legal proceedings against her, and when the water came, have the police come out and go onto her property to open her canal gate. It was a big mess, and when she lost in court, she had a huge tantrum and sold her property, telling everyone they were 'nazis' and that she was moving back east where people actually 'respected' pricate property rights. Sheesh.

One of the ongoing complaints from my western rural friends: people from the big cities who go to the small towns-- then start looking for (and getting) all the trappings of the big cities.

protege
10-31-2006, 12:04 PM
One of the ongoing complaints from my western rural friends: people from the big cities who go to the small towns-- then start looking for (and getting) all the trappings of the big cities.

It's not just out west. Quite a few people here move out of the big city to small towns...and then complain because they have to drive to the mall/restaurant/etc. Over time, the area builds up, and becomes *exactly* what they were trying to "escape" in the first place--they'll turn around and bitch about the "heavy traffic, crime increase, noise, etc." and move even *further* away....to start the cycle all over again. Anyone who has driven south on PA Route 19 over the past 20 years knows *exactly* what I'm talking about. Then, traffic was much lighter and you could easily travel 55-60 with no traffic lights. Now, it's 35mph and a light on *every* damn corner.

MadMike
10-31-2006, 01:24 PM
A lot of people in the development where I live have all kinds of flowers planted around the electrical boxes in their yards, despite the big labels with large, easy-to-read print telling them not to. The neighbors have the one in their yard, which is connected to their house, mine, and probably a couple of others, almost completely surrounded.

I imagine if the power company ever has to come out and get inside the thing, they're not going to be too happy.

draftermatt
10-31-2006, 01:53 PM
I think most people do it to "dress it up" as they are ugly. But you are right, they shoudn't do it.

Becks
10-31-2006, 03:37 PM
It was a big mess, and when she lost in court, she had a huge tantrum and sold her property, telling everyone they were 'nazis' and that she was moving back east where people actually 'respected' pricate property rights. Sheesh.


Hope it's not NJ, where "emminent domain" rules, for some reason that I still haven't completely figured out. (Hey, I'm not from around here!)

protege
10-31-2006, 04:00 PM
Hope it's not NJ, where "emminent domain" rules, for some reason that I still haven't completely figured out. (Hey, I'm not from around here!)

PA has that crap too. It's been used mainly to seize private property...so some corporation (or sports team) can build something other than residential property.

Sofar
10-31-2006, 07:15 PM
I'm uneasy about that emminent domain stuff, during the fifties Seattle lost a lot of great architecture to the great gaping wound that is Interstate Five. Of course back then we positively detested Victorian architecture, or really everything about the past. Thus spawned the "Urban Renewal" project, which invovled replacing every building in our historic district with a parking structure.

Rapscallion
10-31-2006, 07:36 PM
One of the ongoing complaints from my western rural friends: people from the big cities who go to the small towns-- then start looking for (and getting) all the trappings of the big cities.

Over here in the UK, we have townies - usually Yuppies - getting a second home in the countryside because it looks nice. No concrete monoliths etc.

There are many examples of them buying up the housing and driving the local house market prices through the roof, effectively ensuring that genuine locals who have lived there for generations cannot afford to live there. They tend to arrive for a weekend with a car full of groceries, ensuring that the local economy plummets.

They also love the countryside so much, there are many recorded examples of them complaining that cocks crow as the sun rises, church bell ringers being asked to stop their traditional ringing, complaints over cows being herded along roads, whinging that farmers spray manure on their fields for fertiliser etc.

I wish I were joking about this.

Rapscallion

Becks
11-01-2006, 02:27 AM
There are many examples of them buying up the housing and driving the local house market prices through the roof, effectively ensuring that genuine locals who have lived there for generations cannot afford to live there. <snip>
I wish I were joking about this.

Rapscallion


Housing prices in Montclair skyrocketed, because people from Manhatten would have bidding wars on available houses...sight unseen.

In other words, sounds like NJ. I think I'll move back to WI.:p

draftermatt
11-01-2006, 11:50 AM
They also love the countryside so much, there are many recorded examples of them complaining that cocks crow as the sun rises, church bell ringers being asked to stop their traditional ringing, complaints over cows being herded along roads, whinging that farmers spray manure on their fields for fertiliser etc.

I wish I were joking about this.

Rapscallion

I know your'e not. In Carroll County, MD you have to sign a waiver saying when you buy property that you will not complain about the "Smells of Nature" or some crap. And, like you, no one can afford to live here anymore. Everyone who works in Washington, DC and Baltimore moves here to live. So many that the state said that we can no longer issue building permits wer'e running out of water.

My home value went up $60,000 in two years. Which is great, but even if I sell I can't afford to live anywhere else.

morgana
11-01-2006, 05:18 PM
Around here, that $60,000 gain would buy a reasonable house out right.

LdyJedi
11-01-2006, 06:33 PM
They also love the countryside so much, there are many recorded examples of them complaining that cocks crow as the sun rises, church bell ringers being asked to stop their traditional ringing, complaints over cows being herded along roads, whinging that farmers spray manure on their fields for fertiliser etc.

I wish I were joking about this.

Rapscallion

Where my in-laws live out west, people were buying up homes that bordered a pig farm. A pig farm that had been there for generations.

And they were surprised it smelled.

And they complained.

Idiots.

SongsOfDragons
11-01-2006, 08:58 PM
They could have phoned ahead and advised her to move her prize and joys before they came and smashed the flowers into mulch. What if the climbers were prize-winning?

SongsOfDragons
11-01-2006, 09:02 PM
There are many examples of them buying up the housing and driving the local house market prices through the roof, effectively ensuring that genuine locals who have lived there for generations cannot afford to live there.

My dad's equity was recently valued - I'm not putting the result but let's say my face was :eek: . He owns about six houses up north to rent out, one of which is his and mum's retirement bungalow, and both have no problem with the countryside.

I think I head of someone in Wales making a complaint about all the empty space near Sennybridge - why wasn't it being used for more houses? He tried to organise some sort of half-hearted protest stamp but soon stopped when he read one of the many signs that told him the Army use live rounds in this training area...:o

repsac
11-02-2006, 06:46 AM
Housing and live ammunition do NOT mix. Well, unless you live in the southern US.

skeptic53
11-02-2006, 08:20 AM
I'm uneasy about that emminent domain stuff, during the fifties Seattle lost a lot of great architecture to the great gaping wound that is Interstate Five. Of course back then we positively detested Victorian architecture, or really everything about the past. Thus spawned the "Urban Renewal" project, which invovled replacing every building in our historic district with a parking structure.It came DAMN close being a lot worse. There was a huge, long, nasty fight to keep the Pike Place Market from being torn down for a skyscraper (the compromise was Westlake Center). The PPM is an historic farmer's market that is now considered one of the main attractions of downtown Seattle. There was also the RW Thompson Expressway, which was going to run from I-5 south of downtown across Capitol Hill, through the Arboretum, and on up north to Lake Forest Park. This got as far as houses being condemned & torn down on the west side of the Arboretum, and the well-known "ramps to nowhere" on Hwy 520 by University of Washington, where people skinny-dip in the summer.

The Washington Park Arboretum is a huge, gorgeous park in the heart of the city, a priceless treasure. You can argue that the PPM is nothing but a tourist trap nowadays, but it still beats a soulless skyscraper. But losing the Arboretum to a freeway would have been just plain insane. Thank god wiser folk carried the day in the end.

protege
11-02-2006, 01:02 PM
There's a "Plan B" in the works regarding Pittsburgh's downtown. For those who don't know, there's not much downtown anymore. Since downtown parking sucks and is expensive, most people tend to go to the 'burbs to shop. As a result, many former stores are empty now.

What's going on, is that the city wants to seize many of the old (1900 and older) buildings and knock them down. In their place, they want to build new shops and condos.

The idea keeps getting shot down...simply because they'd be tearing down what makes our city unique. Even though some of the buildings are vacant and/or in decrepit condition, people don't want to lose them. Modern buildings just aren't interesting enough--they're simply ugly boxes with no real character ;)

Becks
11-02-2006, 04:03 PM
What's going on, is that the city wants to seize many of the old (1900 and older) buildings and knock them down.


In my opinion, they'd be better off tearing down newer buildings and work on something better.

Gurndigarn
11-02-2006, 10:19 PM
There's a "Plan B" in the works regarding Pittsburgh's downtown. For those who don't know, there's not much downtown anymore. Since downtown parking sucks and is expensive, most people tend to go to the 'burbs to shop. As a result, many former stores are empty now.

What's going on, is that the city wants to seize many of the old (1900 and older) buildings and knock them down. In their place, they want to build new shops and condos.

The idea keeps getting shot down...simply because they'd be tearing down what makes our city unique. Even though some of the buildings are vacant and/or in decrepit condition, people don't want to lose them. Modern buildings just aren't interesting enough--they're simply ugly boxes with no real character ;)

I can sort of understand both sides. I grew up in an area that was similar to that (much smaller scale, though). The problem was that the scenic buildings were kept around until a few of them were condemned because they were unsafe.

A better idea would be figuring out some way to get individuals interested in dropping cash into keeping up the old buildings before they get to the unsafe/too expensive to repair situation.

protege
11-03-2006, 01:09 PM
A better idea would be figuring out some way to get individuals interested in dropping cash into keeping up the old buildings before they get to the unsafe/too expensive to repair situation.

It'll probably never happen though. Most businesses want to build new ones...simply because of the tax benefits. They can write off "depreciation" as a business expense. Also, many times the cost of restoring the building can be multiple times what it's actually worth. Unless there's a serious offer of tax credits or grants, I doubt people will want to invest cash there.

The main problem downtown though, is that there's really no reason to head down there--many of the same stores are out in the 'burbs. It'll pick up a bit during Christmas...since people head downtown to (hopefully) see the Macy's (formerly Kaufmann's) window displays.

Then there are places like Grafton, WV. At one time, Grafton was a thriving town built on the mining and railroad industries. Then the mines closed, and the railroad (the former B&O, now part of CSX) scaled things back and downgraded the line. Now, the town is in pretty bad shape--many of the buildings are falling apart simply because it's not worth it to fix them. Why fix something that's going to stay vacant?

However, within the past few years, Grafton has been making an effort to rebuild itself--several new shops have opened, and some of the old buildings have been restored. The worst ones, including an abandoned church, got torn down.