Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Gate

This gate blocks "road" access to the last 80 feet of our 1300 foot front property line on Twig Forest. You might recall that Twiggy is a 20 acre triangular planted pine plantation that we bought in partnership with my big brother Terry. We bought this as an investment just before surrounding land prices doubled. (GO US!)

A while back, while I was cutting a path into Twiggy, a man on a 4-wheeler stopped by and introduced himself. He explained that he had installed the gate to stop some illegal dumping that had been occurring. He offered to move it if it was a problem and gave me the combination to the gate lock. That was fine by me. It's not like I can't get into Twiggy, the gate only affects a tiny portion near one of Twiggy's corners.

Last week, I went out to Twiggy to post some of my "No Hunting, No Nuthin" signs, since hunting season is here and Twiggy's tenants are not on the menu ... (Kevin, cousins, and n'laws, we can talk ...).

I wanted to post the gate corner of the Twiggy hypoteneuse so I thought I'd check out my lock combination to make sure it worked.

Surprise! The gate has a key lock, not a combination lock!

I DID NOT HOOK THE SNATCH ROPE TO THE GATE AND RIP IT OFF THE POSTS EVEN THOUGH THE JEEP WAS EAGER TO DO THAT. I just climbed over the gate past the no trespassing sign and found my corner, which I posted with my purty yellow signs.

So it's an issue to deal with, but not an emergency. The nice guy on the 4-wheeler may have already flipped his property and the key lock may be the result of that. I will take care of it with a phone call and a letter with pics. I can't just let it go unchallenged.

You should not ignore an intrusion on your property or you may actually lose control of your land. I'm not a lawyer (thank God), but there is a provision in the law that essentially allows unchallenged use of your property, to be a premise for virtual confiscation. The fence five feet over the line, the commonly used dirt road through your land, all of these things can cause you problems if not acknowledged and challenged ... at least here in Florida.

Out by the road I was a little aggravated, but deep in Twig Forest, things were calmer, greener, and a gate with the wrong lock seemed like a silly thing.

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Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

Make sure to restrain your Jeep until AFTER you exhaust the more sensible approaches. I agree with you, that you have to confront your neighbor regarding this encroachment. If not, your silence might be construed as acceptance of his having usurped your property rights.

Wayne said...

The amazing red jeep had the right idea right there, but calmer heads prevailed. We've had the same warnings here about asserting your rights as a landowner, lest someone basically - what - take precendence over your clear ownership? How strange.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You are right about the conversion. Be wary.

In the lower picture, that is a nice scene of a former tree...

Floridacracker said...

I'm hoping it will be as simple as a letter informing them that the gate is "blocking" access to a portion of my property. The gate itself does not bug me as long as I can open it.

It must be some strange old common law clause. It is strange. Yes, the amazing red JEEP is impetuous, I am constantly having to restrain it ... like a 9 month old Lab, it wants to go bounding off every which way.

It's the tree formerly known as pine.

pablo said...

I was wondering about the Twig Forest. As for the apparent incursion, you are right to be vigorous and vigilant. Take it from someone who paid a high price for not having a clearly defined property line! I suspect the new owner (if that is what the case is) will have no problem with your assertion of your rights and will be happy to cooperate. But it's always best to find out where things stand in advance of any incidents.

Floridacracker said...

Your timber theft was on my mind when I wrote this.
I know you like hearing about Twiggy and as soon as it gets cool down here and the skeeters back off, I will venture into it more and post accordingly.

kathy a said...

ok, i went to law school, forgive me. property law is definitely not my thing, but "adverse possession" is a way for someone else to get your property. here's a blurb:

who legally owns the roadway, anyway? might be worth looking up. it doesn't look like a public road, so it may be an "easement" on someone's property -- yours or the guy up the road's. an easement allows use for access -- it can either be a formal agreement, or something established by traditional use [this is a way that "adverse possession" helps property owners, by allowing access to their land].

anyway -- if you own the land, some other guy can't put up a locked gate. if he owns the land and the road is a traditional method of access to some of your land, he also can't put up a locked gate, probably. seems worthwhile to check ownership of the road and if there is a formal easement. the county assessor's office can steer you to the right documents.

threecollie said...

I called my guys out to view the gate and signs and told them the story and they were hopping mad in sympathy with you. I am afraid none of our tractors share your jeep's patience. We have had "neighbors" cut our hedgerows down to build 4-wheeler roads into our fields...repeatedly. My fellas have become expert at quickly building a five-strand gaucho-wire fence across these incursions and planting a posted sign on it, then taking pictures of the whole deal...of course the neighbors then cut another hole. We also get a lot of tree stands nailed into our trees. They guys just take them down and bring them home and leave a nice "thank you" painted on the tree.
The squatter's rights law holds true up here in NY too and we know a number of folks who have sustained serious losses by not telling people to cease and desist from using their land.

Floridacracker said...

Kathy A,
Thank you for that excellent info. Sorry if I give lawyers a hard time, it's not fair and I have a much loved brother n law who is a lawyer ... and may be a judge soon if the run off election goes his way down there in Pasco Co.
Rest assured, I get my share of flack as a "Government Teacher".

I should be fussing about the "sue over anything" public and not the folks who show them how.

I promise to be nicer... and I really appreciate the expert advice.

Floridacracker said...

You must have quite a collection of tree stands :)
I think this will resolve itself without too much ado. It's more a matter of the lock than the gate.

Floridacracker said...

Kathy A,
I forgot to answer your question, the road is private. The land was one large chunk that was sold in 20 acre and up plots last year. We all have access to the road through a pair of gates that DO have combo locks to keep out nonowners. This gate is not one of those.

Rurality said...

I think the laws here are similar, but you can bet they don't really apply to, say, big timber companies. :)

Floridacracker said...

Our big timber companies (St. Joe) have turned into big developers.

pablo said...

Back when we had a common gate for the many landowners at Roundrock, we each had a separate lock on the gate. My lock, a few links of the chain, the next guy's lock, a few links of the chain, the next guy's lock, a few more links of the chain, and so on. That worked well since we could all get through but only because we knew the combo or had the key to one particular lock on the daisy chain. Then someone decided to move the common gate closer to the road to include more of the parcels. The gate never really got set up properly, and the daisy chain of locks is somewhere, but I haven't seen it for years. The gate sits permanently open, but fortunately we haven't had the vandal problem we'd had in the past. (Also, I say the daisy chain lock worked, but you might ask Libby her opinion. She was the one who had to get out of the truck each time to open/close the gate.)

Floridacracker said...

Libby must know that GateKeeper is a highly honored position in any pickup truck. Only the most reliable among us are chosen for this role of extreme responsibility.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Sounded like you did real well with your shrimping. Can't wait for the pictures.

The landuse thing happens here too...I lost land because I let a neighbor put up a fence about 20 feet in, for his cattle.
And where I'm living now we let a neighbor use our driveway for so long that now we can't do anything about it. Being neighborly has a price.

Floridacracker said...

Wow. You've been through it!

kathy a said...

sheesh, there are plenty of lawyers i'd rather not be around, too. in real life, i'm a mom of teens, and we live by a nature area in a metropolis. not an expert on property law, but protecting your rights just makes sense.