WA Supreme Court: Bothell Must Deal with Drainage Pipe Replacement Under Drainage Easement
The number of names on this case is ridiculous! It must be half of Bothell! What’s got them all confuddled?
Who maintains the drainage pipe in this subdivision. The easement for the drainage was granted to Snohomish County, and then incorporated into the city. The city contends the pipe is different. Short story, the pipe is part of the drainage easement, because its the only reasonable way to do drainage. Here’s the parts you’d need to read:
The recorded plat showed that Tract 999 would be owned by the HOA subject to an easement described as a "25' sanitary sewer (A.W.D.) and drainage easement." The plat further provided that "drainage easements designated on this plat are hereby reserved for and granted to Snohomish County for the right of ingress and egress for the purpose of maintaining and operating stormwater facilities." Tract 999 contained two buried pipes located in the same trench: a sewer pipe belonging to the Alderwood Water District (the "A.W.D." referenced in the above-quoted description of Tract 999) and the interceptor pipe.
Also, side note, cut and paste from opinions has been working much better in the last two weeks. I’m thinking the reporter’s office decided to take the MS Word copy of the opinion except for the last pages, in order to improve OCR.
The intrinsic evidence unambiguously demonstrates that the drainage easement contained on the plat includes the interceptor pipe. The plat shows that Tract 999 contains a "25' sanitary sewer (A.W.D.) and drainage easement." Three of the plat's four pages include the following text in bolded letters: "Drainage easements designated on this plat are hereby reserved for and granted to Snohomish County for the right of ingress and egress for the purpose of maintaining and operating stormwater facilities." This comports with the general rule that the burden of maintaining an easement lies with the holder of that easement rather than the owner of the servient property. E.g., Camus v. Culpepper, noted at 157 Wn. App. 1046, 2010 WL 3420379, at *5 ("Generally, the duty to maintain an easement is on the owner of the dominant estate."). Because the County assumed responsibility for maintaining the Tract 999 drainage easement, it necessarily follows that if the interceptor pipe falls within the scope of that easement, the City-as successor in interest of the Countyhas responsibility for maintaining the interceptor pipe.
The parties in this case do not dispute that the interceptor pipe is buried in Tract 999 or that the pipe serves the purpose of drainage. Although no pipes appear on the face of the plat, the record establishes that the drainage easement contains only two pipes: the interceptor pipe and the AIderwood Water District sanitary sewer pipe. Because the plat expressly dedicated the only other pipe within the easement-the sanitary sewer pipe-to the Alderwood .Water District rather than the County, the interceptor pipe is the only drainage facility located within Tract 999 that could possibly have been dedicated to the County. Consequently, the only reasonable construction of the "drainage easement" shown in Tract 999 on the face of the plat is that the easement includes the interceptor pipe. The words and markings on the plat document thus establish that the dedicator intended to convey responsibility for the interceptor pipe to the County.
Did anyone else catch the Court citing an unpublished opinion? That is a no-no for attorneys.
The Attorneys at Issaquah Legal Services can help you with all your business needs. Whether its formation, transactions, dealing with State and Local agencies, or litigation, we are here to help. Please contact our Issaquah Lawyers today.