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Old 11-13-2012, 10:28 AM   #1
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


Hello, this is a follow up to my question about drilling a new well. We've discovered that the reason why, out of 40 lots in our subdivision...we are one of only 3 that share a well, despite the fact that all lots are the same size.

When the plans were submitted, and houses built 20+ years ago....3 lots plans included placing THEIR replacement drain fields on MY lot. That's why my lot didn't get an individual well.

This is listed in the covenants though no covenant has ever been enforced. The local sanitarian says this is bizzare and suprised it was ever approved.

Get this...all lots are in a straightline along the river. Lots 24,25 and 26 would have to go through lots 27,28,29 30,31 to get to my lot. Over the 20 years, all owners have fenced in their property, installed driveways, extensive gardens and one even built a massive garage to house their RV. How in the WORLD would these people be able to do this?

The covenants state that with a simple majority of votes...we can make an amendment. Would that get me off the hook? Or, because the plans originally were drawn this way...am I stuck? What if I got the 3 owners to sign off that they give up the right to use my property?

I think originally there were issues with their lots... But over 20 years...haven't new solutions been developed that would give these people options other than disrupting everyone elses property? How will these lines be able to run near other people's wells? Is that allowed????


Last edited by yoshi379; 11-13-2012 at 10:37 AM. Reason: wasn't finished
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:56 PM   #2
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


Sounds like a visit to the lawyer might be in order.

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Old 11-13-2012, 02:09 PM   #3
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


Yoshi....it helps to put your location in your profile.

With that said.....

Was the conventant disclosed when you bought the property? If so....then I think you have an uphill battle.

If not....get a lawyer...and start reviewing your title insurance policy that you paid for when you bought the property.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:27 PM   #4
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


I am going to guess that the "replacement drain field" you refer to is really a replacement septic system location for the other houses. In many communities, possibly yours as well, it is necessary to designate an alternative location for a septic system in the event the primary system fails. Although it is unusual to designate an alternative location on another lot, it is not unheard of. Generally such an arrangement requires a deed restriction on the lot where the replacement field is located, in addition to the restrictive covenant you referred to.

Exactly what restrictions you have, and what your alternatives are, is clearly a legal issue, and can only be answered by an attorney experienced in such matters. Presumably the property attorney will review your deed and title history, and can advise you what your alternatives are.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:05 PM   #5
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


Thank you for your input. They are, in fact, replacement drain fields....in the event the original fields fail. Still, not good. Not sure what is to be done about mature fruit trees that were planted 15 years ago in designated area.....so bizzare. I'm sure someone got paid off to approve such a POS plan....

When we bought this house 2 years ago, our plot on file with the county had no record of this bizarre arrangement. We had buyers that spent 5 weeks getting ready to move in...discovered the drain fields 6 days before closing....and they terminated the contract.

The only way we found the plan was to look up the three other lots....and they had sketches of replacement fields....all leading to OUR property....not good.

We did have a copy of the convenants...when we purchased. We had never owned a house with a septic...so we overlooked the implications of the situation. Still, strange that it's not on file for our house. But, can't you guess? It sure as hell will be moving forward. Our realtor, (same one that rep'd us when we bought....practically wants to write it on the "for sale" sign. She seems worried WE are going to sue her...or the NEXT owners will sue her. I understand we have to disclose..

.but she sold herself as an "expert" on the area and we, being 3000 miles away...somewhat relied on her to take care of us...our bad....

Last edited by yoshi379; 11-16-2012 at 05:14 PM. Reason: forgot a detail....
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:11 PM   #6
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


On the surface (pun not intended), it sounds like you have a disclosure issue.

Time to talk to a lawyer....

But please keep us posted on what happens....this is one of those interesting ones.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:20 PM   #7
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I will keep you posted. It IS interesting...but it's going to be painfully expensive....

We made a mistake buying this place....and let's face it...you pay for mistakes in this world.

We are going to landscape the property....doing something grassy/ornamental over the designated area....which will accent the fact that there's plenty of room for veg garden that is not effected.

We've spent $100k renovating the house (2200 sf). It IS stunning and it is STILL river front....in spite of the drain field area on the other part of the property.

We'll find a buyer...but it's going to cost us.....
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:23 AM   #8
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


The covenants tell the whole story. The covenants may be enforced at any time. Alternatively the covenants can be modified using the procedure in place for that.

Areas already designated as replacement septic fields for neighbors are legitimate encumbrances on your property. They can be removed if all the applicable parties agree, but new ones cannot be put in place except as provided for in the covenants.

Removal of the easement for a neighbor's replacement septic field is more difficult if his lot is made nonconforming (to zoning) by no longer having an area for the replacement field.

If your deed does not make specific reference to an easement but the use of the property is shown in a plot plan that is referred to by your deed, then an easement probably does exist. It may be less than a full easement, for example the neighbor if and when he needs the land must restore the surface at his expense and/or you may plant trees there and the neighbor has to incur the expense of removing the trees.

Nowadays, more advanced septic systems (such as mound systems) may be much more attractive compared with laying pipe across several other lots to get to a new leach field location on your lot, but those neighbors and the homeowners association would need some kibitzing to formalize giving up the right to use your property.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:00 AM   #9
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


I doubt they are "replacement drain fields." They are only designated locations for installing a replacement field if needed I have one of them that's something like 10,000 square feet of my lot. Covenants have nothing to do with it - it is a Health Department requirement. The only restriction for its use is that no permanent structure can be built on it.

There is an interesting and similar situation in my area (Eastern Panhandle of WV). There is a very large mountain community that was platted in the early 1950s. Big stone lodge, hugh man-made lake. It was once gated, and marketed as a place to build your weekend getaway. Back then, it truly was in the middle of nowhere. I guess many people bought lots for investment or for building on sometime in the future. Flash to the present, and nearly half the lots have never been built on. Now they can't be because they're too small to meet the septic reserve requirement. Plus, many of the existing 50+ year old septic systems are failing and some wells are contaminated. Add the fact that we're in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and you have a real mess. Don't know what some of these people are going to do - there is zero possibility of ever running water or sewer to them.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:54 AM   #10
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


Holding tanks that get pumped when full are the solution for small lot's here that need septic replacements.
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Old 11-17-2012, 10:13 AM   #11
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I appreciate all your comments. Because there was a reference to this in the covenants, and we HAD the covenants...I don't think we'd have much of a case...against anyone.

Even if we got the 3 owners to sign away their right to use our property as a replacement drain field, the county would not go for it...because their septic permits were issued based on this plan.

During the 20+ years since the land was designated this way...a previous owner of my lot planted apple and pear trees. I'm guessing they'd have to come down if drain fields ever have to go in.

Our lot is located in Oregon..on the McKenzie River. Growing fruit and vegetables is a big deal out there and I don't think you're suppose to plant edibles over a drain field....

We feel like we've bought a house on an ancient indian burial ground...bad karma...sort of like poltergeist....

My husband and I hope that SOMEDAY we'll think this is funny.....
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:14 AM   #12
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Until you actually try to remove the restriction you will never know. It might turn out to be simple. Maybe now the county doesn't like or even allow septics to be on neighbours lots.
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:40 PM   #13
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


Quote:
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Holding tanks that get pumped when full are the solution for small lot's here that need septic replacements.
Not if it's the leach field that's failing. Fix for that isn't so easy.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:24 PM   #14
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3 neighbor's replacement drain fields on MY lot....advice?


Actually! If they fail....they'd have to be relocated somewhere else...we aren't on the hook for an additional set of fields.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Not if it's the leach field that's failing. Fix for that isn't so easy.
Sure it is. Take out septic tank and replace with holding tank. No leach field. Being done all the time here on small cottage lots that have septics that were installed 60 years ago when there was no permitting.

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