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  1. #1
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    Default OT- Little (utility) flags in my yard... WTF ?

    I live in the city now and maybe two or three times a year some utility guy will come along and place some little yellow or orange flags in the ground in my yard near the street.

    No one ever knocks on the door to tell me what this is all about and no one ever removes the flags once they are there. This time there are yellow and orange ones...the yellow ones say "natural gas line" and the orange ones are blank.

    So the question is, since the lazy jokers never bother to inform the landowner the what/when/why of these things and they apparently never remove them... just how long is one supposed to leave these flags up ? About 20 of them out there now and besides looking dumb they are a PITA to mow around.

    Silly quesiton I know and of near zero importance in the scheme of things, but just wondering if anyone here may have been involved in "flag placement" jobs in the past and might know the deep dark secrets here !

  2. #2
    kilroyjones is offline Hot Rolled
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milacron View Post

    Silly quesiton I know and of near zero importance in the scheme of things, but just wondering if anyone here may have been involved in "flag placement" jobs in the past and might know the deep dark secrets here !

    Rather than silly, I would say it is an interesting question. I live in the country and still get the mystery flags in my yard. Never see anyone digging or even any sign of work having been done while I was gone. The flags stay there until the road grader comes along and wipes out the majority of the flags by the road edge. I then pull the remaining flags out of my yard, figure there is no need to keep them after the grader has destroyed the others...

  3. #3
    gunbuilder is offline Aluminum
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    Default Utility Marking

    Milacron,
    First off thank you so much for all the work you do on the forum!

    In South Dakota one must call a state phone number at least 2 days before you dig. If you do not dig in 10 day to two weeks you must call again and have the utility lines relocated.

    In the Fargo ND area a contractor had the utility lines located a few weeks later he dig for a house and hit a new fiber line. Somewhere around $200,000 in damage to the line. How could that be I had the lines located? The company bored the line in from each end of the block. How do I know? A friend locates in the Fargo ND area.

    Thanks,
    Paul

  4. #4
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    Maybe one way to find out would be next time to go out and remove them the same day they place them ! I presume that would get someone at my door so I could tell them "look, if you guys are too lazy to tell me what this is all about then tough luck...."

    One would think at minimum they could have a "special" flag to plant with the others, where they scribble in an acceptable removal date.

  5. #5
    Hdpg is offline Stainless
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    Just for exercise and amusement why not probe with a thin rod to see if there is indeed a gas pipe. If there isn't put up your own flags saying No Gas Pipe.

  6. #6
    Mud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milacron View Post
    Maybe one way to find out would be next time to go out and remove them the same day they place them ! I presume that would get someone at my door so I could tell them "look, if you guys are too lazy to tell me what this is all about then tough luck...."

    One would think at minimum they could have a "special" flag to plant with the others, where they scribble in an acceptable removal date.
    Top ten answers -

    10. What flags?

    9. I thought they were left from Halloween.

    8. So YOU guys are the litterbugs!

    7. My dog ate them.

    6. Are you from the invisible fence co?

    etc.




    I think 24 hrs. is long enough to leave them. Then rearrange them into a crop circle pattern and post a sign in the center saying "Land Here".

  7. #7
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    bcstractor is offline Stainless
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    Milacron

    Though dost protest too much. I want to hook up to the electricity pole for my new house so the electricity company wants proof that I own the property so that they can "legally" come on the property to install the transformer.

    This is sheer craziness. Earlier in the year they got their tree contractor on my property to cut down a whole pile of trees without asking before or telling me after. I only found out because I happened to be clearing trees myself and happened to notice odd piles near the boundary.

    Chris P

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    KIMFAB's Avatar
    KIMFAB is offline Stainless
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    Default

    Those are utility location flags. Gunbuilder is right, they are good for 10 days to 2 weeks before requiring a relocate.
    The orange ones are telephone and blue is water, power is usually white.
    You would be really upset if you lived in my area, we also spray paint on the ground above the utility path.
    Retired telephone engineer

  9. #9
    Modelman is online now Stainless
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    Somebody called to have the utilities located at your address. If the flags follow a straight line, they mark something underground; if it's just a single flag, or a flag with "OK" written on the ground with spray paint, it's proof that that utility was out, and has confirmed that they don't have anything within the bounds of the job as described with the request.

    Anybody who digs, landscapers, fencing contractors, other utilities, or even the homeowner, needs to call the locating service before they dig. If you don't and cause a service disruption, it will cost you big time. If you do, and hit something that wasn't marked, you have a get-out-of-jail-free card; it becomes the utility's problem, not yours. Homeowners think, "hey, this is my property, I can do what I want." Wrongo. If the utility has an easement, you have a problem. The easements are typically granted by the time the property owner at the time the buried utility first went in... you don't have much choice, you don't sign, you don't get service. These easements are supposed to be recorded, but are seldom disclosed with the sale. Here in Illinois, the standard real estate contract has a clause making the new owner a party after the fact to the original easement, so no one bothers to dig them out and inform the new owner.

    The flags protect the contractor for two weeks; if work doesn't commence in that period, they are supposed to call the locate service again. This is because there are things that can be put underground that are almost unnoticeable. Both the cable TV and gas company tends to use a plow to install their lines these days, and the trench is invisible ijust a day or two after it's done. More and more utility contractors are using pipe jacking machines. The can put a line in with just a little hole every 500 or 1000 feet. as long as the work zone is active (the two weeks) anyone who adds something is supposed to make sure it gets marked. After the two weeks, it's someone else's problem if it gets hit.

    So, how long to leave the flags in? well, if you're a nice guy, two weeks. When they do my yard, I just pull them out as I run the mower by, and poke them back in the same place. Or, just pluck them out and let the contractor call again. Unless they are there because I called. Then I jealously guard them.

    Dennis

  10. #10
    mark thomas is offline Titanium
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milacron View Post
    I live in the city now and maybe two or three times a year some utility guy will come along and place some little yellow or orange flags in the ground in my yard near the street.
    Though this is tangential to your question, unless you specifically know the boundaries of your yard, it's also possible they are on city property. For example, where I used to live (in the city) every house has a front yard, sidewalk, a four foot wide yard strip (typically grass), and then the curb. Most people assume their yard extends to the sidewalk, or possibly to the street. But in fact the property line is 15' back from the curb, so about 8' of everyone's front yard actually belonged to the city. Somewhere in fine print of municipal law is revealed that while it belongs to the city, the homeowner is responsible for maintaining it. For example, when they come around and repair the sidewalks, they send homeowner the bill. And they don't ask permission to dig "your" yard up to do utility work..

  11. #11
    John E is offline Cast Iron
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    While we don't have issues with the flags as there are no underground wires or gas, Mark's comments are spot on. We have no sidewalks, but 9 feet of grass is owned by the town, and they can do as they please with that without being required to notify us (within reason). They do paint lines on the curb on occasion for water and sewer.
    John

  12. #12
    morsetaper2 is online now Titanium
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hdpg View Post
    Just for exercise and amusement why not probe with a thin rod to see if there is indeed a gas pipe. If there isn't put up your own flags saying No Gas Pipe.
    I suggest a DIVINING ROD....maybe its water.

  13. #13
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark thomas View Post
    Though this is tangential to your question, unless you specifically know the boundaries of your yard, it's also possible they are on city property. For example, where I used to live (in the city) every house has a front yard, sidewalk, a four foot wide yard strip (typically grass), and then the curb. Most people assume their yard extends to the sidewalk, or possibly to the street. But in fact the property line is 15' back from the curb, so about 8' of everyone's front yard actually belonged to the city. Somewhere in fine print of municipal law is revealed that while it belongs to the city, the homeowner is responsible for maintaining it. For example, when they come around and repair the sidewalks, they send homeowner the bill. And they don't ask permission to dig "your" yard up to do utility work..
    Responses tangential to my question are par for the course here Yeah I know, but that's still no excuse to not give the homeowner some info and timeframe...esp when I'm the one having to mow that section of yard.

    Heck, I doubt most folks are as "nice" about this as me and just mow over them the first time they mow again no matter when the flags were put down, so it would be to the benefit of the utility doofuses more than me really. Still, I presume they got a couple of guys who get paid $X to put down flags, they put down the flags and couldn't care less what happens later.

  14. #14
    SVE Performance's Avatar
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    Here in Connecticut CBYD is done by an outside contractor not the utilities not that they tell you what's going on either. Bill

  15. #15
    PaulJr. is offline Aluminum
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    Default Right of way

    Mosts cities, towns etc. and ALL utilities own the right of way on your properity 30 feet out from the center of the road with some owning up to 40 feet from the center line ((( and have access rights to that 30 feet irreguardless of the owner)) , and in this case as in all cases you have no legal right to refuse access , the good thing is they only enforce this when fixing something for the common good and there is not much you, me , us can do about what they do with this ROW. Just mow the lawn and put the flags back, It was all done for the common good for all of us to have utilities unencumbered by stubborn land owners not wanting to give up property access rights . Usually the orginal owner who developed the land gave the access rights to utilites / city to get you/us, fresh water, sewer, power , phone service, paved roads, fire hydrants, police protection . Its a good thing really.

  16. #16
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulJr. View Post
    Mosts cities, towns etc. and ALL utilities own the right of way on your properity 30 feet out from the center of the road with some owning up to 40 feet from the center line ((( and have access rights to that 30 feet irreguardless of the owner)) , and in this case as in all cases you have no legal right to refuse access , the good thing is they only enforce this when fixing something for the common good and there is not much you, me , us can do about what they do with this ROW. Just mow the lawn and put the flags back, It was all done for the common good for all of us to have utilities unencumbered by stubborn land owners not wanting to give up property access rights . Usually the orginal owner who developed the land gave the access rights to utilites / city to get you/us, fresh water, sewer, power , phone service, paved roads, fire hydrants, police protection . Its a good thing really.
    Hmmm...I see you didn't read previous posts by others but couldn't resist blabbering away with repeat info anyhoo

    Yeah, I'm going to remove 20 flags and put them back in the same place...righttttt

  17. #17
    Mebfab is offline Diamond
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    Unrelated but I get realtor signs by the dozen for the subdivisions. How long am I supposed to leave them up?

  18. #18
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
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    Around here they spray paint on the sidewalks and streets,
    red for phone or ATT, blue for water lines, yellow for
    city gas, and green for storm or sanitary sewers.

    I would probably take all the flags and simply place them
    at random in the next nearest area where there are some
    flags.



    Jim

  19. #19
    DaveKamp is offline Titanium
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    Default Moles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mebfab View Post
    Unrelated but I get realtor signs by the dozen for the subdivisions. How long am I supposed to leave them up?
    Hey- they're pretty useful- repaint 'em, get a stencil that says "GARAGE SALE", and sell 'em... at a garage sale...

    The little flags... they're handy, but keep a note of the colors. If you REALLY wanna confuse someone, go to a construction site and plant a bunch in random lines... :-}


    Also- keep in mind... when a utility locate is called in for one area, the locate service will go to ANY RELATED viscinity, and mark EVERYTHING. In most cases, the locate service doesn't know what the heck is going on, or why... but there IS one more reason (not noted yet) that you're getting located.

    Surveys.

    When a major reference point exists on, or near your property, surveyors will go looking for the reference point. Sometimes these things are slightly buried and hard to fine, and it may be easy to see, out in the open, and marked with a 90' fuschia pole with neon green lights. Regardless, the surveyor will HAVE to call in a locate SIMPLY because they'll put a shovel to the ground to go looking for that particular stake.

    If they need to find your stake, utilities will usually get marked in the ENTIRE PROPERTY, simply 'cause the locator guy won't legally be able to limit it to just one viscinity. If you happen to be the sorry guy who has a major section corner, and the whole town is surveyed using meets and bounds (rather than a filed subdivisional plat), or there's a subdivision being put in, and they're generating LOT identity using meets-and-bounds references, in a one-lot-at-a-time survey, you'll have locate services out there every two weeks to constantly re-verify locations for surveyors. It's terribly aggrivating if you have no idea what's going on.

    IF there are property sales in your viscinity, or there's lots of property development, OR the city, township, county, or state is going through an update of their GIS data, you'll get quite a bit of this for quite some time.

    I like the Crop Circles idea... better yet, use 'em to mark mole tracks... and put a mole trap every so often to really confuse folks!!!

    Oh, and the reason why they don't notify you (even when it's on your property)... they don't know who the owner is, don't know where they are, and don't know why the locate is being done, and law doesn't require them to. Of course, they're usually friendly guys just doin' their job. Last time I had a locate situation (and was home to witness it) I introduced myself and asked him about it, he told me everything he knew. Keep in mind, it was totally unofficial- they usually find out whatever they do by talkin' with other people in the area... sometimes the guys doing some aspect of the work, and sometimes it's totally inaccurate, and they'll say so, so take it with a 50-lb block of salt.

    The nice thing, is that these guys have some really cool equipment at-their-disposal. If you've buried your own wire, pipe, etc., they're not legally required to locate your private stuff (their companies will charge YOU for that type of locate), but most of the time, they'll hook on and scan and mark it for you for free.

    So don't bite 'em, and keep in mind that if you pull out the flags, they'll come back and do it again. It's their job.

    Now, if a guy shows up with a pair of wires and walks around marking your lawn with a spray can, send him away. I had a city moron do just that, and he accurately pinpointed the location of my sewer line about 90' to one side of where it really was. After a 20 minute argument and a very sincere legal warning, I sent him back to his office to pull the city's As-Built engineering drawings... and he found that the real 'drop' into the main was indeed where I told him it was. Took him a while to scrub all that paint out of my driveway, but it was probably better than eating crow... and much better than paying for an incredibly expensive sewer repair.

  20. #20
    Areomyst's Avatar
    Areomyst is offline Aluminum
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mebfab View Post
    Unrelated but I get realtor signs by the dozen for the subdivisions. How long am I supposed to leave them up?
    If someone put that stuff in my yard I'd promptly throw 'em all in the truck, and dump them off at the realty office that put them there with a nasty note attached. My property is NOT anyone else's advertising space. Heck, if it was business hours I'd go in and make myself known.

    ~Josh

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