What rights does a drainage district have over my personal property?

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What rights does a drainage district have over my personal property?

We have a creek that borders 2 sides of our property. Our plat lines extend halfway across the creek. We understand that we can not do anything to disrupt the flow of water in any way. However, today they were “cleaning up” along the creek and used an excavator and ripped out trees as far as almost 40 ft from the creeks edge. We maintain all the trees, none of them were overgrown or obstructing the creek in any way, either with live growth or dead branches. Can they do this? Also one of the trees on the back of our property had a trail camera strapped to it that is now destroyed.

Asked on November 4, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is no single answer: it depends on (1) muncipal ordinances and zoning in relation to this--e.g. what level of right of way or control is given to the drainage district; how much discretion do they have to clean up trees, etc. that might disrupt or endanger the water flow; and (2) is there any actual easement which they have over that property? The best thing to do is to call them, complain (professionally) and ask by what authority they took the steps they did over land and trees that were yours. There's a good chance they'll tell you, and whether they're right or wrong, that will give you a starting point in evaluating the situation. If either they stonewall you or tell you something you disagree with, you'll probably need to get a lawyer invovled as the next step.


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