Subdivision: Right-of-Way Frequently Asked Questions*
Right-of-way is a legal right of one to cross the property of another. It is usually granted in the form of a permanent lineal strip of land, which is established by a survey.
Right-of-way is dedicated (given) by the owner, usually for the purpose of road construction. It may also be used for utilities such as water, sewer, gas, power, drainage, telephone and cable. Right-of-way dedication is found in deeds and on plats, however, for it to become public, it must also be accepted by a public agency. Right-of-way may also be acquired through condemnation.
Right-of-way is a specific form of easement. An easement is usually given across land for a singular purpose such as for a utility line. An easement for ingress and egress (the right to travel) may be permanent but is often temporary such as in a construction access easement. An easement may be removed by the property owner if the user otherwise has no legal claim. Right-of-way removal is somewhat more difficult. Right-of-way is often used for utility placement but utility easements may not be used for public vehicular or pedestrian use. Right-of-way dedication is always made on a deed or plat while an easement may be written, verbal or implied.
No, before right of way can be public, in addition to dedication there must be acceptance by a public agency (city or State). At this point, maintenance becomes the responsibility of the agency.
This is a dedicated but unopened right-of-way, in which no road was constructed. They are usually found in residential developments where there was once an intention to extend a road. A paper street may exist indefinitely unless it is abandoned by legal process.
This is an informal term used by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) referring to a public road where little or no formal right-of-way was ever dedicated or where right-of-way was acquired but documentation was never recorded. In these cases the State maintains only the area between the side drainage ditches. Many of the older State roads fall in this category.
Public right-of-way is maintained by a city or the State. Private right-of-way may be maintained by a developer, a homeowner's association, or in the absence of these, by the users of the road. In this case, unless there is an obligation in the form of a contract or stated in deed restrictions, users are not bound to road maintenance.
Under North Carolina law a developer who conveys property must provide the buyer with an instrument disclosing whether the right-of-way on which the property fronts is public or private. If public, it must be stated that the right-of-way and the roads thereon, meet NCDOT standards, If private, it must be stated who will maintain the streets and that NCDOT will not maintain them.
The NCDOT requires 45 feet for local subdivision roads. Collector roads require 50 feet; five lane highways require 80 feet and cul-de-sacs must have a 50 foot right of way radius.
Incidental use such as yard maintenance is naturally allowed, however, permission is required for placement of signs, posts, mailboxes, driveway cuts, culverts, utilities or structures.
Subdivision roads with right-of-way that was dedicated, recorded, or approved by a County Board after September 30, 1975, may not be added to the State road system unless the road meets minimum NCDOT right-of-way, grade, alignment, construction and paving standards. There must also be at least two (2) occupied homes per 1/10 mile. Roads less than 2/10 of a mile must have four (4) homes.
Yes, although in other cases an easement may be allowed. Disposition in these matters is often left up to the courts.
Lending institutions require road maintenance agreements before approving loans for property on private streets. Veteran's Administration (VA) loans require direct access to public streets. There is no general rule, however, regarding minimum right-of-way.
Over a period of time the road may remain in its place by prescription. Any party having a legal interest in the road may also relocate it at their expense. The injured party may also file action against the developer if he can be located.
*The information provided herein above is not intended to be legal advice. The information is general in nature and may not be accurate or applicable in regard to certain circumstances. Please consult an attorney for information and advice on specific situtations.