Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: sdflcorran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    9

    Identifying land owners for personal trails?

    I just moved to an area north of Atlanta and have no idea where my property ends. I've hiked around behind my house several times and really want to start riding back there, but as empty as the area is, I still want to make sure that I get permission first for any land that's not mine. Would it be best to check tax records to see boundaries and owners? And how should I approach the owners? I don't plan on doing anything crazy or inviting 80 people out here, but I do plan on making some modifications to the landscape (berms, small jumps, etc.).

  2. #2
    Don't worry, be happy!
    Reputation: formica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    6,528
    You don't know your corners? Getting that squared away would be a good place to start. The tax rolls are a pretty good place to get info but they are not always correct. Research the recreation laws for your state. IMBA may have these listed state by state IIRC. For example, in my state, Washington, we have great statues that protect private landowners pretty well from liability for no-fee recreational use.

  3. #3
    Rep Power: Infinity
    Reputation: NateHawk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    11,711
    Pay a surveyor to come out and mark your corners. It'll save you tons of headache, especially if you ever want to install a fence along any part of your property line.

    To identify WHO the owners of adjacent property are, check with the county. They'll have records on landowners.

  4. #4
    featherweight clydesdale
    Reputation: Fattirewilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    1,356
    See if your county has tax map books online or GIS maps on line. This will show the out line of your property. GIS may allow you to overlay topolines. If the tax maps aren't online, you can view them at the tax assessor's office.

    Not as accurate as a survey, but free and reasonably accurate.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    124
    We overlayed a county parcel map on a google earth screen to get the coordinates of a property corner. Then we loaded the coordinates (the cursor position on GE gives latitude-longitude) and hiked into the woods looking for these spots. We found one boundary pin within 10 feet, another within 30 feet and two others within 70-80 feet using this method.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: sdflcorran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    9
    So I've found the property maps online, so I have a general idea of where my property ends and who owns the property I want to ride on. How should I go about approaching the land owner? I know he plans on developing the land eventually, but it's a good 30 acres of woodland right now. Like Washington, GA has good laws limiting liability to the land owner, but what suggestions would you have for approaching him. If anyone has approached someone like this before, what methods have you found success with? Letters, e-mails, face-to-face meeting, etc?

  7. #7
    featherweight clydesdale
    Reputation: Fattirewilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    1,356
    Quote Originally Posted by sdflcorran
    I know he plans on developing the land eventually, but it's a good 30 acres of woodland right now.
    And next year it could be cleared and graded.

    You need to figure out the developer's time line. If its not consistent with or longer than you plan to be in your current residence, then building trails there may not be worth your time. If you've built some sustainable, real bench cut trails before, you know its a ton of work. Your time may be better spent volunteering with SORBA and helping to build trails on property that's protected from development.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    124
    With our project at Salisbury we had a club member who lived by the trails and knew the landowners. He approached 2 of them about gaining access but they both denied permission. One of the guys said his lawyer told him not to do it, no matter what the open use/limited liability laws say.

    Another property owner bordering our project is a cable TV company. We've approached them about using their land or even donating it, but it got stalled when their lawyer wants to see case law for how this applies to mtn biking, and whether it is considered active or passive use. We can't find any case law because mtn biking is fairly new. There are some examples of hikers trying to sue land owners because they tripped on a trail, but these suits are never successful .

    As far as approaching the landowner in your case, approach them how you would approach anyone you don't know about anything. Try to find someone who knows the guy and have him approach the landowner is one method.

  9. #9
    Masher
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    534
    We've run into this same issue locally with land that is designated for one use or another...
    My understanding is that active use includes anything that the land has to be modified to accommodate, such as baseball, soccer, football fields, etc.
    Passive use is hiking, bird watching, mountain biking, trail running, etc...

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mtobikes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    72

    How to approach

    If possible I would try to introduce yourself to the owner and get to know them first before presenting them with the question about riding on their property. Get a feel for how to approach...if you don't know the person (I'm assuming you don't), then I would talk over the phone vs. email or letter because that way you have the chance to overcome any objections that they might have while also allowing you the opportunity to present your case.
    MTOBikes.com

    Keep the rubber side down!

  11. #11
    Masher
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    534
    I agree with mtobikes.

    Right behind my new home there is a 25 acre wooded and undeveloped lot with a perfect slope to the land... it looks ideal for some fun rolling sweeping singletrack. The neighbors live near the bottom of the lot. My plan is to visit the neighbor and introduce myself to see if it's alright if my wife and I snowshoe and XC ski around there this winter, it's perfect for morning and evening dog walks...

    Based on this visit I hope to find out how open they may be to bike trails, but since I won't realistically do anything until spring I have plenty of time to 'feel them out' about a trail. This is a good long term approach for anyone...

  12. #12
    backwoods and backwards
    Reputation: MOJO K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    1,203
    Knocking on a neigbor's door, introducing yourself as the abutting property owner on whichever side you're on, and asking how protective everyone is of their boundries shouldn't be an issue.Perhaps one or more of them will walk the common property lines with you to show you the pins. Getting a feel for what's been allowed by the previous owner and what's expected from you is probably a good idea, just to be a good neighbor.
    I happen to live on a large property and would caution you that by asking for access you need to be willing to reciprocate. I've chosen to not ask to ride my bike on a neighbor's property because I don't want to allow quad traffic or hunters access to mine. Good luck K.
    Moonbeam's compost-powered hybrid generates a respectable 32 fruit flies per rotting banana peel.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: sdflcorran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    9
    Eh, I wish the guy was my neighbor. Unfortunately his office is on the other side of town, so I doubt I'd be able to introduce myself to him in a casual environment. I'll have to see if my landlord would know how to get ahold of him. And the land I live on is only about 2 acres, so I doubt he'd be terribly interested in using my property for anything.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •