Keeping Your Private Roads Private

On February 12, the Utah Supreme Court released a trilogy of cases dealing with private roadways, and the interpretation of Utah Code Ann. 72-5-104 (the “Dedication Statute”). Under the Dedication Statute, the continuous and uninterrupted use of a private roadway, by the public, will result in a deemed public dedication of the road. If a road is dedicated in this fashion, the public gains a permanent right to travel accross the roadway.

In the opinions, the Court clarified what constitutes an “interruption” that is sufficient to restart the running of the ten-year period. Of most interest to associations is the Town of Leeds v. Prisbey opinion, which found that Ms. George’s twenty-four hour roadblocks, which she conducted in 1971, 1978, 1985, 1992 and 1999, had sufficiently interrupted the public use to prevent a public dedication.

The other decisions had different facts, and are not as helpful in providing guidance to associations.

In light of the decisions, it’s probably a good idea for associations to have a 24-hour road block of their roads (from public use), at least once every ten years, and keep evidence of the blockages.

The cases are Town of Leeds v. Prisbey, 2008 UT 11, Wasatch County v. Okelberry, 2008 UT 10, and Utah County v. Butler, 2008 UT 12.

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