An easement is a legal interest in property for a specific purpose, such as giving a company access to run a telephone line underground. Utility easements that are dedicated to the Town of Cary cover water and/or sanitary sewer lines, and are typically 20 feet wide. All easements and rights-of-way are indicated on property surveys. Homeowners are urged to check their property surveys before adding fences or plants to ensure easements and rights-of-way are kept clear.
After the easement is granted, the property owner continues to maintain the easement just like the rest of the yard
What can/cannot be in an easement
- Ground covers or grasses may be planted within an easement.
- No trees or shrubbery of any size shall be placed within five feet of a manhole or Town utility easement.
- While fences and landscaping improvements may be installed within the easement, please note that these are subject to disturbance or damage during the Town's use of the easement and may be removed if the Town needs access for maintenance or utility line repair.
- Fences on properties that have sections over the top of a sanitary sewer main line and within the sewer easement should have either removable sections within the fence or have a gate that is 10 feet wide.
North Carolina law requires utilities to perform annual inspections of all easements to ensure proper access for maintenance activities. The Town performs these inspections on an annual and bi-annual schedule. Inspections include, but are not limited to, the observation of manholes, examination of easements' condition for mowing and access, and the identification of items such as planted trees, bushes and fences that may obstruct access for routine maintenance.
To protect our public health and environment, the Town of Cary periodically clears easements of trees and re-growth to prevent root penetration into sewer lines, which cause sewer blockages and sewer overflows. Before any vegetative clearing starts, a notification letter is sent to all property owners that border the easement explaining the purpose for clearing easements and the approximate time the work will be performed. Commercial line segments are cleared annually and residential line segments are cleared every two years. This allows property owners the opportunity to ask any questions they may have and remove personal items from the easement.
Fences without removable sections or gates within the sanitary sewer easements are subject to disturbance and/or damage during easement maintenance. The Town will not replace those items back onto the Town's easement and is not responsible for any damage that may occur. A Town employee is on site at all times during the easement mowing or clearing to monitor progress and address any citizen concerns.
Identifying Boundaries and Vegetation
Two weeks after notification, Town crews will begin flagging easements and identifying the boundaries.
Orange flagging ribbon and orange metal flags identify boundaries. Blue and white striped ribbon is used for vegetation to be removed, and pink ribbon for vegetation to be pruned.
Residents are encouraged to request meetings concerning vegetation that has been flagged for maintenance; call 311 or (919) 469-4090 or submit a request.
Routine Mowing of Easements
Easement mowing is done by Town crews along with contract crews. Notification letters will identify who will be doing the scheduled maintenance. Contract crews will have a Town employee with them at all times to help with direction and to help assist residents with any last minute questions.
Typical easements are 20 feet wide, but in most cases the easements will not be cut to full width. Selective vegetation will only be removed where access is needed for routine maintenance or where sewer line segments have been problem areas. These areas can consist of tree roots that have damaged the utility lines and caused environmental damage resulting from sewer overflows.