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Claudia's Forum Posts: 67

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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 6/10/2006


We purchased a lot in New River and applied for a permit in January. We have complied with everything. We just found out the road going up to our lot did not have a permit. I went to P&D and they told me my permit has been halted until each lot owner going up the hill to my lot applies for an "as built" grading permit, and submits engineered plans. They also told me the department of transportation had to approve it. The person who built the road did so many years ago, and assures me he followed the regulations, except for asking for the permit.

My IndyMac construction loan requires my home be built by December 13th. How am I going to get people to help me out? It's a lot to ask landowners. Is there any way around this? The real estate agent forwarded this to me from a local lot owner:

"As far as I know, Tom did not get a permit for the road. I have been
fighting with the county over the same issue on another lot I have. I
think if they are persistent, the county will give in, since they do not own or have anything to do with the other lots that the road crosses and the road is pretty much up to county standards. The county cannot hold them responsible for every lot between them and I-17. Bottom line is they will have to bring their portion (their property) of the hillside road up to county standards if they want it exempt from hillside regulations, or the county will consider it a driveway and deduct the disturbance from the allowable amount.

It is a complicated process. Because it is hillside, they have to get an
engineer involved on the site plan. They will need a topographic site
plan that shows how much of the lot is hillside and what percentage of that is disturbed or will be disturbed. Include the disturbed driveway in
their calculations and ask for a variance if over 15% of the hillside is to
be disturbed. I have seen the county accept about 25% disturbance if a
shared driveway is part of the disturbance. The other option is to file a
permit for a hillside roadway on their lot, complete the roadway, and then file for a house permit. This way the county will not deduct the road from their disturbance. They will deduct the square footage of the road from the sf of the property prior to calculating hillside.

Hillside Roadway Example

Lot C (my lot)

100% hillside 55,000 sf

- 10,000 sf roadway

=45,000 @ 15%

= 6,750 sf allowable disturbance for house.

Variance

Example Lot C

55,000 sf. @ 15%

= 8,250 allowable (10,000 for driveway 5,000 sf for house

= 15,000 sf disturbance =  27.4% disturbance

I would argue that the county cannot deny them a permit because they
live on a substandard road and ask for the variance. All houses in the area live on a substandard road. Let me know how this works out.

Can anyone offer any insight or suggestions on dealing with this issue?

Claudia


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 6/10/2006


Have encountered similar problems in Pima County. Sometimes it helps to ask for the supervisor for help in clearing up the problem. If that doesn't help you can always ask who you should have your attorney call to get the problem resolved.

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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 6/12/2006


Before I purchased the lot, I asked the RE agent if there were any easement issues, a standard question, and she said no, presenting me with a boundary survey that showed the easement.

The county just stated I have no easement on file - no ROW - what can I do? I contacted my title company, but they have been unhelpful in the past.

County proposed I pay for all permits and surveys for the 'proposed' road if I wanted it bad enough. I don't have any more $$ in my budget. Any ideas or suggestions? A good attorney??


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 6/12/2006


Sounds like typical RE B.S., say whatever it takes to make the sale. Because a title search would have shown what easements exist. So the title company may need to cough up some paperwork for you as evidence one way or another. Legally ( I don't think) you can't sell a piece of property that has no access without duly informing the buyer.

If there is a survey that shows the easement, the possibility exists that it wasn't recorded or wasn't recorded properly. The recorder's office can help with that search.

Try calling the state RE office and explain what happened. They should be able to give you an opinion of your rights and legal status in this situation. They have a complaint system for such a thing also. You may have good grounds for lawsuit with compensation and damages.

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By Dusty in Tucson, AZ on 6/12/2006


Sorry to hear about your issues with your title company; if it's Fidelity National Title, you may have your work cut out for you. I can *personally* vouch for how they will work hard to avoid honoring title insurance liabilities... that said, the first place to look is on your Schedule B page on your title insurance. Did they provide you with all copies of recorded documents on the Schedule B? Are all the documents relevant to your property (read them carefully)? Check the seals and dates on the recorder's stamps -- are they in chronological order, or were some easements recorded *after* transfers of title or other easements were created? Was proper notice given to you and your predecessors in interest about access to the property? 

AZ law provides a three-year window after a property sale to force the seller to take the property title back, and pay back all monies, if they sold the property to you without access; your title company should also have some exposure if your access/title are clouded.

If your paperwork is not in order, I suggest you consult with a competent real estate attorney; they may be able to force a settlement from the title insurer without litigation. Good luck!

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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 6/13/2006


This is the seller's real estate agent's reply - She did know, and she is telling me she disclosed this somewhere before I bought the property:

"Actually, I represented XXX on the sale of his parcels. What he is referring to is a clause in the Seller Property Disclosure Statement which says:

'Legal access has been graded to the North side of this parcel. Physical access is from the road on North side of the parcel. Seller did not participate in the construction of this road and makes no warranties to its quality. Buyer is aware there is no road maintenance agreement in effect for road.' So no, there was nothing disclosed to Ron’s buyer that was not disclosed to you and your agent.

The sellers owned the property you purchased for a very short time and had very limited knowledge as stated on your seller property disclosure statement, they explained that the information being provided was based on the information they received when they purchased and that they never occupied the property. 

I really do sympathize with all that you are dealing with at the county and regret that you are having so much trouble with this. I can appreciate that you are frustrated. but neither I nor the seller knew anything about this problem, if we had, it most definitely would have been disclosed!"

She also presented us with a document that demonstrated an easement. I'll take it to county to see if it is valid. Still, If I can't build because the road is unpermitted because of the illegal grading, which must be brought up to code by each parcel owner, do I have a case? Who can I contact?


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By Dusty in Tucson, AZ on 6/13/2006


Claudia,

If the RE agent is giving you a document that shows an easement that is NOT on your title report, or Schedule B, you can pretty much bet that it's not a recorded document. If said document was not provided to you prior to the sale, then they have disclosure issues. The standard title insurance boilerplate will say that they will not cover material issues not shown in the public records, so again, if it's not in the county records, you'll have to go against the seller/agents.

Another issue is why the county did not enforce grading permittal against the original road grader -- that's a big no-no! I should think that the subsequent property owners would have a case against that person for selling property with liabilities to the county; AND, the county ignoring it for so long would seem to be a basis for having them "grandfather" it, since you had nothing to do with the original grading.

A consultation with an attorney would help clear up the issues and give you good info for making a decision. I can't give you any names up in Phoenix, unfortunately; the good news is an initial consultation should only run $100-$200, and you shouldn't feel obligated to retain them -- the whole thing might just get fixed with just a letter or two from you, using the advice and "magic words" your attorney will give you. The best attorney referrals are probably word of mouth, or you could check with the Arizona Bar Association to get a referral.

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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 6/14/2006


The title insurance co. verified the easement the Realtor identified. Now my only problem is the illegal grading that will keep me from building. Title said they would get back to me. Someone told me to get the county's position in writing, so I can take it to an attorney. I am trying to contact someone with more experience (management) at the county before I make another move. Everyone's ideas and comments have been very helpful in helping me think this out. Thanks!!
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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 6/14/2006


The county does not want to be held responsible if the firetrucks can't get to my house in an emergency. Truthfully, the road is built just as well as any other roads there. I wish I could just escape this dilemna.   


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 6/14/2006


You can offer to install a residential sprinkler system as opt-out for the firetruck timing.

Check with the fire department. If it a contractor they may have different ideas than the county will provide.

I have a project that is within Rural/Metro contract area and they told me about their requirements, which is a big difference from what the county asked for.

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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 9/14/2006


Lawyers have not helped - no money in it for them. I will have to do this myself. I need to get an as-built grading permit. What professional should I contact to help me? What do I need to do? I am burned out.

ISSUE HALTING MY PERMIT

1. Where is the physical access to the lot?

 

A.  There is no existing road to the lot, per a 2005 aerial photo.

 

B. There are no indications in county records for road grading permits applied for the adjacent parcels during the past five or six years.

 

C.  A separate permit (with additional submittal requirements) is required for each parcel on which road grading is proposed.

 

D. If road grading on adjacent parcels is proposed, and any of the grading will disturb areas of natural hillside slopes, the road must meet the requirements of Article 1201.7, Hillside Roadway Standards, of the Maricopa County Zoning Ordinance. Please note that if grading for a hillside roadway is required, the permit for the residence will not be issued until the hillside roadway permit is applied for, approved and issued, and as-built certification of the roadway in conformance with the approved plans submitted and approved.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 9/14/2006


Start with a civil engineering firm experienced with dealing with the county on pre-existing problems. You will probably need a surveyor if the engineering firm doesn't have one.

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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 9/14/2006


Thanks Dale. I'll look someone up in the Yellow Pages. Will the land have to be re-surveyed? It was surveyed in 2005.
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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 10/30/2006


I have had a survey and a topo done. The grading plans are in progress. I may have to trench for the electricity, which is a near-impossible and I'm guessing very expensive task. Would solar be more cost effective?

Does the trenching have to be completed for the road permit to be issued? I can't contact the other lot owners; will I need their permission for the road permit?

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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 10/30/2006


Claudia,

How far will you have to trench? Have you contacted the nearest power company, SRP or APS? What do they say? Last I checked, APS would run 1,000 feet above ground for free if you are setting up a new account. Any more than that it would be less expensive to do solar. You may want to talk to the other property owners and share the expense. If you could get enough interested it would be nice to tie to the grid.

If there is a public utility easement, you shouldn't need any permission to put lay the lines in the easement. If there is no easement you would need permission, but ask them to pitch in and they can increase their property value but bringing power to it.

Typically, power lines run along a road not underneath it, so I don't know if you would have to complete one before the other.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 10/30/2006


If you have an ingress/egress and utility easement you aren't required to inform others if a permit is issued but it would neighborly to inform them, maybe get them to help pay for it, if it benefits them.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 1/4/2007


Did you ever get your zoning road issues resolved with the county?

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