Question: My parents live in a community consisting of twelve homes on approximately 30 acres in the Flagstaff area. The only access from this community to the highway is a gravel road over private land. This gravel road has been used for over 50 years. A developer has recently purchased this private land, and has told the community that the road will be closed. If the road is closed, do they have any rights?
Answer: If the gravel road was built and maintained by the community, and the use of this gravel road by the community has been open, notorious, continuous, and “hostile” (without permission) for more than ten years, the twelve homeowners in the community should have acquired a prescriptive easement to continue to use the gravel road. If the developer closes this gravel road, the twelve homeowners in the community should be entitled to go to court to quiet title to the use of this gravel road. Note: even if the twelve homeowners in the community could not prove a prescriptive easement, because they are “landlocked,” they would have a private right of condemnation under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 12-1202) to acquire an easement for the use of this gravel road to the highway, but would have to pay reasonable compensation to the developer.