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Personal Land Use Question- Fence/Well


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I had my new backyard neighbor stop by my place last week, and he told he intends on replacing our chain link fence with a wooden one.

Here's the catch:

My house, which I purchased about 7 years ago, and the well/pump house was built in the 60's. The original owner of my house also owned the rear property, which was subdivided in appx. 1994. Part of my pumphouse appears to sit on the this neighbors property (slab, wall, and roof overhang). The neighbor said he found corner posts that indicate it does.

When the property was subdivided, there was a contract stating that the builder must install fencing in between the new properties and my place. While the lot lines clearly show a straight line along our border, the builder built an arched fence so that it would go around the pumphouse.

I have a contractor buddy coming out to help me determine whether it's feasible to move the structure. The problem is that it will require moving the pressure tank, re-pouring a slab, etc. Even if we manage to slide the pumphouse away from the property line 18" or so, it will still impede on the neighbors property line.

While I'd like to help the guy out as much as possible, I'd like to brace for a fight, in case it comes to that. Do any of you have any experience with this sort of thing?

I believe each county has a law library, and I may have to go spend some time looking into this. I'm hoping to take a short cut if possible since I don't have a lot of free time these days.

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Each of you bought the property you own with the full knowledge of the conditions that existed at the time of purchase. Or, you at least had the opportunity to be aware.

Leave the shed alone. If you move it it's the same as a new structure set-back requirements will come into play.

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You could offer to do a lot-line adjustment or an easement. Typically, you'd pay for the value of the land, which should be a fairly small sum.

Do you know RE agent Edwin Sharer? He's kind of a land use savant. You might offer to buy him lunch for his thoughts.

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Leave the shed alone. If you move it it's the same as a new structure set-back requirements will come into play.

I had a contractor buddy come out and take a look at it today, but we couldn't locate the exact corner posts. The neighbor said that he measured from his front corner posts and found them-- we shall see.

We discussed your concern, and I figured that perhaps w/ a written agreement, we could get around the lot line issue.

It looks like the most I could shift the shed would be about 3', and that takes into account chopping 6 of my 12" of gable overhang. That's a guesstimate though, since we don't have the exact measurements. It would definitely be within the setback area.

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Be a nice neighbor and give him the choice of fencing around the structure or paying to properly relocate it onto your property.

The original agreement back in 1993 w/ the builder was that the builder was to install fencing-- this is per the person I purchased the place from. It is currently fenced w/ 4' high chain link w/ the plastic inserts. This new owner is getting ready to tear this chain link fence down, and wants to move my shed so that he can install a 6' wood fence.

The well head is within 12" of the apparent lot line. The proximity of the well to the lot line may prevent a legal structure from being re-built.

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You could offer to do a lot-line adjustment or an easement. Typically, you'd pay for the value of the land, which should be a fairly small sum.

The neighbor has a narrow back yard, which is currently just dirt. He intends on re-doing the landscaping, installing the fence, and getting my shed out somehow....

Do you know RE agent Edwin Sharer? He's kind of a land use savant. You might offer to buy him lunch for his thoughts.

I don't know him, but will look him up.

Thanks for all of your help.

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Jim,

Edwin Sharer doesn't show up on the state of Oregon's realtor website.

The only person with the last name of Sharer was out of McMinnville, but that was a woman. The Edwin's that showed up didn't have a last name that matched.

Is he out of Oregon or Washington?

It looks like I haven't heard from him since 2004. As I recall, he had a daughter in the business. Last number I've got is 5382101.

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Thanks Jim.

He doesn't show up as an agent, and you probably haven't heard from him because he dropped out of business and retired. It looks like he's about 65 years old, so that would make sense.

Charleen is listed on the state's site, but shows her license as being inactive. They must have both dropped out.

From what I can find, they were both working out of the Prudential Pro West office in Newberg, hence your 538 number you have for them.

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He bought the place with your shed on it and said nothing until now?

You are being Mr Niceguy to offer to move the shed. I don't think you need to. But every little burg has its own rules. I think first step is to measure from your corners to locate the true property line.

Then if the neighbor agrees to let you have your shed up against his fence, get that in writing.

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Thanks Jim.

He doesn't show up as an agent, and you probably haven't heard from him because he dropped out of business and retired. It looks like he's about 65 years old, so that would make sense.

Charleen is listed on the state's site, but shows her license as being inactive. They must have both dropped out.

From what I can find, they were both working out of the Prudential Pro West office in Newberg, hence your 538 number you have for them.

Hmm. Too bad. The only other connection I have is land use attorney Bob Browning, in Forest Grove, but he's currently in prison . . . .

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He bought the place with your shed on it and said nothing until now?

You are being Mr Niceguy to offer to move the shed. I don't think you need to.

Yeah. I would do nothing. If you do something, you are making yourself liable for doing it right, which will bring into play all of the survey, setback, fire separation, and other stuff. It is what it is, and neither of you put it there. I wouldn't budge unless I was served with a lawsuit.

You probably already have adverse possession. This type of situation is exactly what adverse possession is all about. A couple of guys I know bought 40 acres in the 80s and built two houses on it, one for each of them (it was OK then to have two houses on one parcel). Fast forward to today and they want to subdivide into three parcels and sell one of them. They get a surveyor out with today's very accurate GPS gear, and find out that one of them has built his garage a few feet onto a neighbor's property. At the time, it was built in accordance with the lots lines that were surveyed... not as accurate as what was done today. There was no hanky-panky and every effort was made then to do it right. The neighbor got huffy but his lawyer told him not to even bother. The guy with the garage gave him a few bucks as a token gesture, and they called it good. It is what it is.

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I think first step is to measure from your corners to locate the true property line.

Measuring from the corners is going to be tough. I just found out last week that my supposed .53 acre lot is much smaller. Apparently, I own out to the middle of the road/ highway.

Middle of road, etc. is not uncommon. My wife and I have some land over in East Texas that we sold a portion of and learned there "used to be" an old country road along the fence line going back to another section of land.

County stopped maintenance on it well over 20+ years ago and the fences have move a tad over the years and now the back section of land is actually 'land-locked' seeing as how the country doesn't really recognize the road.

Albeit if push came to shove the county could re-establish maintenance on the road if they desire and fences would have to be moved accordingly.

All that to say that once we had it surveyed the survey company advised that we owned up to the 'middle of the road' that was no longer maintained. From the middle to the other side was owned by the next door land-owner.

At least, in our case, it was not a huge deal.

Best of luck on getting all things settled for all.

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Thanks Jim.

He doesn't show up as an agent, and you probably haven't heard from him because he dropped out of business and retired. It looks like he's about 65 years old, so that would make sense.

Charleen is listed on the state's site, but shows her license as being inactive. They must have both dropped out.

From what I can find, they were both working out of the Prudential Pro West office in Newberg, hence your 538 number you have for them.

Hmm. Too bad. The only other connection I have is land use attorney Bob Browning, in Forest Grove, but he's currently in prison . . . .

Mr. Browning will be easy to find, then? [:)]

His prison term wouldn't reflect in any way on his legal expertise, would it? [:)]

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On my street, everyone's property runs to the "middle of the road."

My neighbor across the street had the corner of his lot in the middle of the road right where the road went around a sharp bend. Every time the county came by to regrade the road (two or three times a year), the guy driving the grader would cut the corner a little bit more, intruding deeper and deeper onto my neighbor's land. My neighbor got so pissed off at the grader that he put in a row of trees right against the side of the road. That stopped the corner cutting. But by that time, the road had moved so far that a 10' x 30' triangle of my neighbor's land ended up across the street from him.

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I just paid for an answer to my question from Just Answer-- figured I'd just ask an attorney. Here's the answer I received:

Thank you for choosing Just Answer. My name is Jack and I will assist you today.

the new neighbor could complain, and or you could have difficulty selling the property in the future if you don't handle the situation.

You should be able to file an action to quiet title which will give you and all others after rights to have the pump use where it is.

Here are some grounds for your case

Adverse possession, the use since the time the property was subdivided may be included in the calculation of time needed. If you are going to do this you need to quiet title before the owner gives permission which can later be revoke.

Easement by Prior Use If the pump house was on the property prior to and after the subdivision then you can keep the pump house where it is at. This may be a sure winner based on your description.

Easement by prescription similar to adverse possession rights are based on long term use without explicit permission.

When you file to quiet title you would include all of the above as reasons. You only need one to succeed.

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