Most residential airparks have streets and taxiways that are for the joint use of all airpark property owners. These roadways and taxiways can be considered “public” but in essence, they belong to the homeowner’s association or the developer but dedicated to the free and unfettered use of all property owners, which ever way the airpark is set up.
One problem that comes up from time to time relates to the blocking of a little used street or taxiway.
The blockage could occur from someone parking a motorhome in the right-of-way. Perhaps what originally was a small shrub has grown over the years into a pretty good-sized tree that impedes the easy movement of an airplane or car.
Now and then a person sells a piece of property to someone who doesn’t fly or isn’t interested in airplanes or doesn’t understand them. The new owner sees the adjoining taxiway as a parcel that is rarely used and decides to build a kennel for his pets there. Because it is off to one side and is very rarely used by anyone, there isn’t any problem until a few years down the road when another person sells and the new owners of that property get a survey and dicover the situation. Or, perhaps someone decides that route of traffic is the best way to get to the runway and they discover the kennel blocking their path.
The blockage has been in place for a couple years or more so the person who put the kennel (or whatever) in place now feels he has the right to keep it there.
Is this something that is affected by something called adverse possession?
We asked an attorney friend for his thoughts and here’s what he explained:
It generally takes 10 years for someone to claim property by adverse possession. As a result, it would be smart to take a close look at all streets and taxiways or roads and make sure that they haven’t been closed off by an individual. If they have, it would be smart to require the individual to remove the blockage.
Our attorney friend said such demands should be put in writing and make sure the notification was received by mailing it to the party certified or registered requiring a signature showing receipt). Be sure the original letter and proof of it having been received is retained.
Of course, the best way to correct the problem is through discussions among all parties involved.
If the individual won’t take care of the problem in a friendly manner, then it is vital that action is taken before the 10 year period occurs.
In other words, each year all roads and taxiways should be checked to make sure no one has tried to make an unused right of way into their own property and any problems called immediately to the attention of the offender in the manner described above.
Of course, the same goes for individuals, too. You need to know where your property lines are and make sure they are not encroached upon by neighbors or the association.
No one wants a lawsuit because that just stirs up hard feelings and results in financial impact to all parties. Only as a final step should the association or an individual resort to filing a lawsuit.