Considering buying some lakefront property at Grand Lake? You might want to make sure you aren’t buying an encroachment on GRDA property first.
As many of you may may know, encroachments on GRDA property around Grand Lake have become kind of a big deal over the past several years.
For years and years, we’re talking from the completion of the dam back in the late ‘30s to really about 15 or 20 years ago, it was assumed that the general property line around the lake was an elevation level.
I’d always heard 755’, because that’s when ‘water would be going over the dam’.
And, for the most part, people just went with it.
Subdivisions were platted, homes were built, even businesses were built with just kind of an assumption that – well, it’s all good.
How and why it went down that way, doesn’t matter.
But as you would expect, none of that is quite accurate (well, at 755’ elevation that does trigger a River Run which has to do with flood control, but that’s a different story).
In fact, the boundary between GRDA owned property and private owned property around Grand Lake is determined by a metes and bounds survey description, not an elevation. The boundary is commonly called the GRDA Taking Line.
Any private use from within that taking line is an encroachment on GRDA property. And that land within the encroachment…yep, it’s public property. [Well, GRDA property, which is public access]
There are portions of homes (maybe even whole homes), swimming pools, decks and more that encroach on GRDA property all over Grand Lake.
GRDA License to Encroach
Now before you get too uptight, if you have a structure built on GRDA property, it may qualify for a License to Encroach, which allows the structure to remain in place for up to 30 years.
If you don’t have any structures built within the encroachment, good for you and generally there is nothing to worry about.
This would be a good time to add to ALWAYS call GRDA if you have any questions about any of this. GRDA Lake Permits can be reached at (918) 256-0852.
In order to be considered for a License to Encroach, here’s what you need to know:
- Encroachments on GRDA built prior to 6/1/05 may qualify
- An application (click HERE) must be filled out completely, and follow the rules
- Fair market value of area being used, as bare land, must be submitted by licensed appraiser
- Survey with square footage of encroachment on survey must be submitted
- Survey should also clearly mark the GRDA taking link
- The License to Encroach must then be approved by the GRDA Board of Directors, typically a 30-60 day process.
Again, here is that link to the actual License to Encroach on the GRDA website. It’s a 4 page document that explains it all.
If it makes you feel any better, the last I’ve heard from a reliable source is that only 1 license to encroach has been denied, and that was a mobile home that could be moved.
What about the Flowage Easement?
To make things even more interesting, there is also a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flowage easement all around Grand Lake that IS based on mean sea level elevation.
Basically, the flowage easement allows the property covered by the easement to be flooded with water.
If your property is subject to a flowage easement, the easement will be found within your abstract.
The terms of the easement will dictate how the easement affects the property, but generally you are not allowed to place a structure within the flowage easement that would impeded the flow of water over the property.
You need to contact the Corps of Engineers and not GRDA for flowage easement issues. The Tulsa District website can be found HERE.
Get Real Estate Help
One way to rest easy during the process of buying a lakefront home or property at Grand Lake is to work with an experienced, local real estate professional who can help you with all of this.
Please always know and don’t ever forget that I’m not a lawyer, don’t play one on TV and really don’t have any interest in being one.
That said, I did spend a decade as a real estate appraiser around the lake and know a little bit about what I’m talking about. So, take it for what it’s worth.
And don’t forget to get a survey when you buy, so you don’t have to deal with your Grand Lake dream home having an encroachment on GRDA property.