Mooresville revokes all Time Warner Cable easement agreements

The Town of Mooresville this week revoked dozens of easement agreements it made with Time Warner Cable over the years because of concerns the company buried fiber optic lines outside the town’s right-of-way in some homeowners’ yards.

Utility companies are allowed to bury lines only within the town’s right-of-way along town-maintained streets, Town Attorney Steve Gambill said Friday at a Mooresville Board of Commissioners meeting.

Concerns arose after Mayor Miles Atkins said he saw a Time Warner Cable subcontractor burying lines outside his home on Academy Street, where the town doesn’t even have a right of way.

The town never established rights-of-way along many older streets where utilities built their lines above ground over the decades, including the historic district in which Atkins lives.

Such rights-of-way are more common in newer neighborhoods, Mooresville senior engineer Allison Kraft said. Town rights-of-way are established along streets in case the town needs, for instance, to add a sidewalk along it at some point, officials said.

Kraft notified Time Warner Cable that the town has revoked all of its easement agreements with the company until the company can show it stayed within the town right-of-way on all of its projects. Time Warner Cable requested the agreements when it wanted to bury lines along streets, officials said.

The company must also show that an agreement existed with the town wherever it buried lines, Gambill said.

Time Warner Cable officials didn’t respond to a request by the Observer for comment on Friday.

Mooresville commissioner Mac Herring asked town staff to see whether the company built lines beyond the town right-of-way on Culp Street. He said he suspects the company went beyond the right-of-way there.

If a company buries a line beyond a town right-of-way in someone’s yard, the homeowner can sue the company for damages and demand that it remove the line, Gambill said.