Error! Unknown document property name.
The majority’s finding that Laclede’s easements did not predate the County’s interest in the dedication strips is also plain error. As discussed in Laclede’s statement of facts, supra., Laclede’s easements and gas lines did predate the County’s interest in the dedication strips. Laclede’s lines are located in the dedication strips, which run alongside, but not underneath, the existing roadway. 6 Laclede’s lines are not currently located under the roadway, nor have they ever been. Not until this action has the County proceeded to widen the right-of-way over the dedication strips which the Subject Gas Lines have occupied for many years. Laclede’s lines did predate the County’s interest. For this reason, the majority’s reliance on Panhandle E. Pipe Line Co. v. Madison County Drainage Bd., 898 F. Supp. 1302, 1304 (S.D. Ind. 1995) is misplaced. There, the pipeline company had installed its lines over an already existing drain owned by the county. Id. Under those facts, the court held that drain was established before the utility acquired its easements and installed its lines. Id. at 1312. Those facts stand in contrast to the present case, where Laclede’s easement was obtained, at the latest, concurrently with 6 Because Laclede’s lines are not located in the public right-of-way, nor have they ever been, the article cited on page 13 of the majority opinion is inapposite. That article states that a utility can be required to relocate, at its own expense, lines in an easement “located within an existing public right-of-way.” Court of Appeals Opinion, p. 13, citing James W. Ely, Jr. & Jon W. Bruce, The Law of Easements & Licenses in Land, § 7.16. Laclede’s easements at issue here are not located in the existing public right-of-way, nor have they ever been. Error! Unknown document property name. -25-
the County’s, and where Laclede installed its lines in the subject property long before the County ever sought to widen the roadway. D. There is no evidence that the County accepted the dedications, meaning that the County possesses no property interest that trumps Laclede’s easement rights and Panhandle and Quindaro clearly apply. The only basis for the majority opinion is the erroneous distinction between the facts in Panhandle and Riverside-Quindaro and the majority’s statement that Laclede’s easements did not “predate” the County’s interests in the subject property. The absence of any evidence that the County accepted the dedications deprives the majority of the only stated basis for their opinion, a hypothetical distinction between the undisputed facts before them and the facts in Panhandle and Riverside-Quindaro. The absence of any evidence that the County accepted the dedications precludes any finding in favor of the County. It means that the County has no interest in the dedication strips at all. It is beyond dispute that the County cannot force Laclede to move the Subject Gas Lines from dedication strips unless the County has superior property rights in the same property. As discussed in Laclede’s briefs throughout this matter, acceptance is a required element to find that a dedication has occurred; without an acceptance, there can be no dedication to the County. See, e.g., LF 0036, citing State ex rel. Hwy. & Trans. Comm’n. v. London, 824 S.W.2d 55 (Mo. App. 1991). The trial court found that the Subdivision Plats dedicated “public roadways” to the County, and therefore by necessity determined that the County’s acceptance of the dedications, a required element, had occurred. LF 0214. Error! Unknown document property name. -26-