Way of Necessity

I recently purchased a property that is in the shape of a rectangle. On one of the long sides, there is water frontage. The two shorter sides are adjoined by neighboring parcels. The other long side adjoins to the highway.

The kicker is that the entire road frontage is blocked by a guardrail. This parcel is on a straightaway and not on a curve or bend or anything like that. Neither of the adjoining neighboring properties will grant/sell access to my property.

I have escalated this with the state but still have not heard any official word. My next stop is with an attorney but I figured I would check here to see if anyone else has experienced something like this and, if so, how you resolved the issue.

@gaent , I’ve not run into this yet in the land business, but understand what you mean. Out of curiosity, do any of the immediate or very nearby neighboring properties have driveways onto the same road that you’re referring to? I ask because, you might already know this and have verified it’s not the case here, but roads, or sections of roads, can be designated as limited access, in which case they won’t allow a driveway to be built.

Assuming that’s not the case, and the state will allow a driveway, the other issue I imagine might possibly come up is the matter of who would be responsible for the cost of modifying the guardrail to allow for the driveway, which could actually be a non-trivial amount of money, depending on the particulars of the guardrail system, and the value of the property.

I know where I live, in a development situation (property owner is building out a subdivision, or even a small retail center or fast food restaurant, etc.), the state generally looks for the property owner/developer to pay for the road improvements necessary for access. Hopefully, as a non-developer (since you’re not building a 1,000 lot subdivision here), and with this apparently being the only viable means of physical access to the subject property, the state might cover that cost, but I don’t know what the applicable state DOT or road authority might do in your case.

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@gaent Don’t know what state you are in. Check further in the DOT Plans from its right of way section. This will help you and the attorney should you hire one. The depth and width of the lot is not stated. It might be the reason why the entire frontage is guard railed; to keep cars from careening into the water. Also check County plans if you can. Flooding and Drainage issues may be a factor. Also, pull the State statute on access and ways of necessity.

I apologize for my rambling but I was a right of way agent in another lifetime. Good Luck.