I put my garden within 100 feet of the gas main (the one that supplies gas to hundreds of houses), and now the gas company is concerned about where it is. Do they have a right to be if other trees have established themselves closer to the line for many years, and it's on the neighbors property, not ours? I did investigate with the neighbor who's a real estate agent before doing anything.

Since when does the gas company have any right to say what homeowners can and can't do on their own land as long as it doesn't interfere directly with the line (i.e. digging it up, or within a foot of it)?

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    No offense, but why would you want to question them about a gas line that could blow up? – Putvi May 8 '19 at 17:46
  • They contacted us about the garden location in a letter for some reason. – a coder May 8 '19 at 17:49
  • Well of course they did. They don't want it to harm you. – Putvi May 8 '19 at 17:50
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    if it's gas, not liquid, and you're not going down 6' you have no need to know where it is as it's below where we're putting the plants as it's an NG pipeline, and not the megalines. there's also mushrooms in that area that will eat any oil problems that we have. – a coder May 8 '19 at 17:56
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    I suspect that the utility is concerned that your garden might either cause someone to dig in a way that might damage the line, or might impede access to the line as suggested by @NateEldredge A 100' easement does sound excessive, but if there is a document that gives them that easement then they can impose it. It is hard to know how deep the line really is. – ohwilleke May 8 '19 at 22:08

We have no way of knowing when this happened, but it is probably a fact, recorded some time in the past. Utility companies very frequently obtain a right-of-way (easement) which gives them certain rights to your property. Typically, this happened a long time ago when a previous owner agreed. As for gas pipelines, that typically includes "don't plant trees" restrictions. The easement is usually recorded in the county office where deeds are filed. The legal basis is generally "because you agreed, or some previous owner agreed". You can get a copy of the easement to see if "no trees" is actually part of the agreement. If yes, no point in arguing, if not, you could hire a lawyer if they are demanding that they are threatening you. They are allowed to be concerned and to ask you to cut trees regardless, but if it's not required by the terms of the easement, you can say "No, I'd rather keep my tree".

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  • there's a river birch less than 10 feet from the line, and they haven't had the neighbor cut it down yet, and river birch trees love wet feet. – a coder May 8 '19 at 18:16
  • Check to see where the easement actually is. It's possible the center is on your property line or even more on your side than the neighbor's even though the pipe itself is on the neighbor's property. Thus making them more concerned than they need to be. Maybe they need to update their pipe's location. – mkennedy May 8 '19 at 18:49
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    As mkennedy says. Utilities don't always carefully check the underlying legal and physical facts, so they could be wrong. There is no legal requirement that a land right be invoked uniformly, so the argument "they gave the other guy a pass" won't get you very far. – user6726 May 8 '19 at 19:22
  • If they go off the easement by even an inch they can get sued then, right as I can imagine they want to get to the creek (which the pipeline is buried in) which is only really accessible by our side or by traversing a wetland/driving along the creek, and I already checked with the watershed district who said it would be fine to do what we're doing, but the government can't do it? – a coder May 9 '19 at 0:25

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