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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2020 12:05 PM
From: Representative Donna Oberlander
To: All House members
Subject: Limitations of Prescriptive Easements for Public Use
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation to clarify that only public entities (Commonwealth and local government entities) can pursue prescriptive easements for the benefit of the public. 

I am aware of at least one instance where a private entity has commenced litigation to obtain a prescriptive easement (right to access another’s land) for the benefit of the “public.”  If property rights are to be surrendered for “public” use, then it is the public, through our state and local government entities, that should hold those rights. 
My legislation would amend the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act to provide the following: 
  •  Only a “public entity” can make a claim for a prescriptive easement for the benefit of the public.
  • “Public entity” includes the Commonwealth, a Commonwealth agency, a political subdivision or a local government agency.
  • These changes apply retroactively to any claim which arose in the last 21 years.
  • For any existing litigation, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources would be substituted for the private entity trying to claim the public easement.
I hope you will join me in sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB598