farm crossing

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farm crossing

Postby mikecoast » Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:02 pm

Hello - New to this forum - I have obtained a 36 acre parcel in Southeastern Massachusetts that was bisected by a railroad from a larger parcel many years ago. I did a title search which revealed that the incumbent railroad is obligated to to "build and maintain" a farm crossing. Once this crossing is restored I plan to develop the parcel. My question is - How complicated will it be to expand this farm crossing into a more adequate crossing to accommodate vehicle traffic? Thank you for any and all information.
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Re: farm crossing

Postby edbear » Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:44 pm

You better be careful. Railroads are death on these types of crossings. Back in the 1950s, the B & M bought out lots of property owners whose parcels were on both sides of the tracks and linked by a farm crossing. If you persist, they might hold you to a say 10 or 12 foot wide xing, no pavement, etc. Or they might join you in court and argue that the crossing can only be used by those who own the parcel in its entirety, not those who have bought individual parcels. Or a court could decide that you have to pay for a crossing protection installation since you are converting a private crossing to what appears to be public use, even if it is on a private street. Get yourself a lawyer, preferably one who has retired from a railroad, pipeline or utility law department (not one who handled personal injury claims). Railroad holdings can be complicated. For instance, your crossing could have a fiber optics, gas or electric line running through it.
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Re: farm crossing

Postby BR&P » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:04 pm

Laws vary from one state to another. And I'm not a lawyer. But the key words here may be "farm crossing". I'd be willing to bet that somewhere there is language limiting a "farm crossing" to activities limited to agriculture and farming, whatever actual language is involved. In other words if you are bringing cows or tractors across from one field to another they have to accommodate you. As soon as you start developing the land or making other use for it, their obligation - and your right to a crossing - will probably disappear.
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Re: farm crossing

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:39 pm

My neighbor has 2 private crossings. The railroad was playing hardball with him, as they recently replaced the second track. It went befor an administrative law judge. The judge asked if he was engaged in agriculture. He uses it commercially, as he sells top soil. This was not good enough.

I suggested that he get a few chickens or pigs. Even planting a few Christmas trees, or saying that he sugars maple trees might work.
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