Easements and Rights-of-Way
The Real Estate Services (RES) department works with the WCPSS Facilities, Design and Construction (FD&C) department in the development and renovation of new and existing school sites.
In addition to the responsibilities of locating, analyzing and purchasing land for new schools, the RES department assists FD&C in the development of sites by coordinating the procurement of permission to cross the property of another. The right to cross another’s property is conveyed by the granting of easements, which vary in purpose, duration, location, size and parties involved.The RES department regularly negotiates with such parties as private property owners, municipalities, government agencies, land developers and utility companies to acquire the various easements necessary to site development. The easements most commonly acquired as necessary to the site development process are required by the NC Department of Transportation, utility providers and municipalities. Easements benefit the school system, the community and others. Common types of easements include:
- Temporary Construction Easement - allows temporary access upon property to perform construction work. Areas that are disturbed are restored in accordance with generally accepted landscaping and engineering practices.
- Temporary Access Easement - (Right of Entry) allows limited access to a property for a specified purpose, i.e., surveying, appraising, access over property, which usually has no permanent impact on the property.
- Slope Easements - allows for the permanent creation and maintenance of a "sloping" transition between properties of different elevations. These slopes created are typically either a fill slope which helps support the adjacent road and/or sidewalk (road is higher than adjacent property) or a cut slope where dirt is removed and sloped back so the adjacent property won't collapse or erode onto the adjacent road and/or sidewalk (road is lower than adjacent property). After the change of the contours of the property is complete the areas are restored using generally accepted landscaping and engineering practices primarily to protect the slope from erosion.
- Tree Conservation Area Easement - Identifies, preserves and protects a specific area with a requisite number of trees established thereon that ensures that adequate green space (an open urban natural area with plant life) is reserved for the benefit of future generations.
- Greenway Easement - allows for the construction of paved, gravel, boardwalk, or dirt trails and public access to use the trails that are usually recreational in nature. It is not unusual for a greenway easement document to also contain provisions for the conservation of the easement area so that it remains in a natural and undisturbed state other than the developed trail itself which may include other amenities such as benches and trash receptacles.
- Drainage Easement - allows for the permanent transmission of stormwater and/or control of its flows across a property typically from an adjacent road or parking lot which easement may allow for the installation, inspection, replacement, repair and/or maintenance of such facilities and related appurtenances as may be necessary. Such facilities and related appurtenances may include the installation of pipes, rip-rapped ditches, concrete drop inlets, culverts, weirs, sediment basins, or other structures or improvements.
- Stormwater Impoundment Easement and Stormwater Drainage Easement - allows drainage and stormwater runoff to cross a property to provide for an undisturbed or natural corridor for the passage of water, including containment and release of water, and may contemplate surface flow and/or subsurface piped flow.
- Rights-of-Way - provides a portion of private land that is set aside and dedicated (granted) to the NCDOT or municipality for development or improvement of a public roadway and/or sidewalk thereon to improve and address traffic and safety concerns.
- Two or Three Party Right-of-Way Encroachment Agreement - agreements with the NCDOT and/or a municipality that allows improvements to be made within an existing right-of-way area, often to connect a driveway to an existing public road, to widen an existing road, or to make connections to public utilities services that are already located within the right-of -way. This agreement is between the NCDOT and/or a municipality and the Board.
- Utility Easement - allows the installation and maintenance of infrastructure to provide services including the provision of water, sewer, electrical power, gas and communications.
- Transit Easement - provides access to public bus service on school sites, and usually accommodates construction of a shelter within the easement area.
- Access Easement - allows access over another’s property to reach desired areas.
- Easement for Traffic Signal or Signage - allows placement of traffic control measures.
- Bikeway Easement or Sidewalk Easement - provides specified area of travel and safety for the public.
- Encroachment Agreement - permits the structures of property owners to be located on the property of another for a specific period of time.
Easement acquisition and conveyance
The RES department obtains and grants easements from and to others by negotiating the purchase or sale of the easement using a formula based on a portion of the fair market value of the land involved. A land owner may, if applicable agree to exchange an easement or donate an easement, which may provide the grantor/donor with a significant tax benefit. As a last resort, easements can be acquired through the process of Eminent Domain or condemnation, where the land is condemned and taken with just compensation paid to the property owner. Compensation paid to a landowner in a condemnation case is determined by a formula based on a portion of the fair market value of the land involved. Unless agreed upon by the parties prior to the completion of trial, the compensation amount is determined by a court of law.