Property line disputes can become litigious, costly nightmares for property owners, but some Loomis neighbors have come up with an amicable solution to their problem.

The solution was shared with the Loomis Planning Commission at their March 20 meeting when a lot split approval was requested.

Barbara and Tim Norman of Loomis were interested in splitting their 8.9-acre property on Laird Road into two parcels.

They purchased enough of a neighbor's property to have the 9.2-acre minimum required for the split, but a land surveyor found that the existing fence line separating the Norman's property from four neighboring parcels encroached 20 feet onto their property.

The fence had stood for generations and everyone assumed it was the property line. The neighbors had erected sheds, garages and located leach fields on property that in reality wasn't theirs.

"We aren't interested in moving fences or demolishing buildings," Tim Norman said.

The Normans and their neighbors came to an unusual, but simple resolution that will create a landscape easement allowing the Normans to split their lot while their encroaching neighbors will retain use of the land in question.

Bill Mitchell, president of Land Development Services in Rocklin and surveyor of the property, explained the parameters of the easement. He said no further development of the property in question would be allowed by the neighbors and if an existing building were to be destroyed, it would not be replaced. The fence would also remain in its original location. An easement would ensure that future owners of the Norman property could not demand the land be returned. "We have a gentleman's agreement right now," Mitchell said. "Years ago these were large parcels of land that over time were split many times. They didn't hire surveyors and the deeds weren't written by professionals, so there are a lot of these situations in the area. Many property owners make lot line adjustments with their neighbors or reposition the fences correctly when the errors are discovered."

The Planning Commission approved the lot split with a requirement that the lot line easement be completed.

Mitchell explained that years ago the courts went by "grandfather clauses" that allowed old fences to stand as property lines. In more recent court decisions, including an appeal to the Supreme Court, that practice is no longer accepted.

"The Supreme Court ruled that title stands and deeds can't rely on fences being the property lines," Mitchell said. "In this case, we have a group of owners who got together and agreed."

In other planning commission news, the Homewood Lumber relocation request was tabled until the April 17 meeting so that the wetlands report from the Army Corps of Engineers could be received and reviewed.

The planning commission also elected Mike Hogan as their chairman and Janet Thew as the vice chair. Hogan replaces former chairman Greg Obranovich who is still recovering from an accident that left him with a broken back and ribs and a lacerated kidney. Obranovich is expected to return to the commission next month.

Source:, March 30, 2007.