Q: My wife and I have been approached by a land developer who wants to develop the property next door to our subdivision. He wants to put up 95 homes and needs to run a sewer line through our property.
We love our densely-wooded, 1.6 acres with our 80-foot tall hardwoods. The builder asked to do a survey to spot trees that could possibly be horizontally bored under to save them. I refused and he said “let’s see what the county wants to do”.
The county then had a survey done marking many of the trees. We had the county right of way coordinator come out and he said he would try to do what he can. We asked what would happen if we refuse to allow access and he said the county would condemn our land.
I realize that we can’t stop this but can only hope to be compensated fairly. The sad thing is 80-foot tall trees just can’t be replaced and we would lose the woodsy, secluded value that we love.
Do you have any ideas as to what we can do?
A: Sometimes developers want to do what’s right. And I’m sure in your case, having 80-foot tall trees is a plus for whoever is going to buy one of those 95 homes on the other side of your lot.
I’d talk to the developer now about what, if anything, can be done to save those trees. And, you’ll need to get a fair market value for those trees, especially since you can’t just replace them. Call a local arborist as well as a top gardening company and have them give you an appraised value for the trees you will lose.
While you’re working with the arborist, pick his or her brains about what kinds of fast-growing trees you can plant to help give you the woodsy feel you love. There are fast-growing spruce trees that add several feet per year. You may also be able to add, depending on where you live, sugar maples that will add color in the fall.
Finally, in light of recent court decisions in the news and some states becoming less willing to permit land to be taken from private homeowners, be sure to speak with a real estate attorney who may be able to advise you on whether the county would be able to condemn a portion of your land and what you may be able to achieve in objecting to the condemnation or how much money you should get if they force you to allow part of your land to be used for the neighbor’s sewer line.
Nov. 26, 2006.