Problem with subdivision boundaries goes way back
In the last county commission meeting held on July 2, the problems associated with property lines on the northeastern shore of Scofield Reservoir came up once again.
In short, many people who own property in the area are not sure of the boundaries for their property and it seems the actions of the Bureau of Reclamation having the Bureau of Land Management put new sixteenth corners for surveying in has even complicated the situation even more.
According to the counties planning and zoning office, the problem began in 1961 when a developer began selling lots without county approvals. Many of the lots were created with legal descriptions that were put down with pencil, paper and rulers by those who were dividing up the property.
In short, the Mountain Retreat plat was recorded with the county on March 16, 1961, but it has no ties to the federal section corners. That makes it almost impossible for a surveyor to figure out where the lot actually begins and ends.
The history of conflicts in the area since that time has been very well documented by the county, with many going to court and one even going all the way to the Utah Supreme Court.
For the most part it has been an unfair situation for many of the owners in the area, because without clear lines of demarcation, not only the original purchasers, but those that have inherited land or structures as well as those that have purchased property in the area. Those that own these properties often have a hard time getting financing, and of course title insurance has been very difficult. Even property and casualty insurance has been hard for some residents to obtain.
A couple of years ago a cabin in the area burned down, a nearby cabin was also destroyed, and another on the other side of the property was badly damaged. When the cabin owners came to the planning and zoning office to get permits to rebuild officials realized that the owners in the neighborhood had hired a professional surveyor and that new deeds had been recorded on the lots. This basically took out the property lines that had been "grandfathered in" and revoked their status as a legal subdivision since no plat had been filed with the planning department that the planning commission could recommend and send to the county commission for final approval.
This all became very confusing and when surveyors began to try and straighten out the situation they found all kinds of problems. Some structures were built with half on each side of a property line. Others were built in what was supposed to be roads or access ways. Some people who own property are locked in because there is no official right-of-way by which they can get to their property.
"To call this (situation) a can of worms would not do it justice," says county building director Dave Levanger.
In attempting to find a solution to this situation, the county commissioners recently re-authorized the countys engineering department to work with owners to establish traditional property lines so that things work out for everyone concerned.
"This problem has been around for a long time and landowners need to see some progress to feel something is being done," Levanger told the commission.
However, the situation has been made more fuzzy by the been made more fuzzy by the placement of the new federal markers.
"If the Gooseberry Narrows project goes in Scofield Reservoir must be able to hold, within legal limits, the water of that reservoir should something happen to it," Levanger told the Sun Advocate last week. "That means they would then have to raise the flood plain around Scofield to accommodate such an event. According to our figures that would be a 16.5 foot increase in the level of the reservoir flood plain from 7620 feet to 7636.5 feet. That would effectively eliminate having structures in that area."
Beyond that the new marker that the BLM placed appears to be about 10 feet off of the county surveyors calculations, so that even complicates the situation more.
However, the county plans to persevere and work toward getting the information they need to correct the problem by working with both residents and the BOR for information on their new surveying monument.