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Is the dominant-tract owner with an ingress/egress easement for a servient-tract owner compelled to grant utility easement?

John Peaspanen
StarNews

The answer to this question depends on the language within the individual easement agreement.

Chris O’Keefe of the New Hanover County Planning and Inspections Department explained, “All easements are created differently. If the easement talks about utilities, then they (the dominant-tract owner) are compelled. If the easement does not, then they are not. Easements are part of the bundle that comes along with property ownership.”

In an easement agreement, one land owner sells or leases a portion of the rights to their property to one or more additional property owners for a specified period of time. This is usually so that owner granted the easement can utilize the granting owner’s property for access to their own land.

The property owner who benefits from an easement is the dominant-tract owner. The land owner who grants the easement is known as the servient-tract owner.

O’Keefe gave an example, “The CFPUA (Cape Fear Public Utility Authority) buys easements to lay down water and sewer lines. But if the county wants to come in and add a bike trail to that easement, then we would need to negotiate the inclusion of that use in the easement agreement. This may require a payment for the use.”

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