Other Utah Statutes Relevant to HOAs

Public Use Constituting Dedication of Private Road.

Utah Code § 72-5-104.

A private road is deemed no longer strictly private and is dedicated and abandoned to the use of the public when it has been continuously used as a public thoroughfare for 10 years.

"Continuous use" is use as frequent as the public finds convenient or necessary and may be seasonal or follow some other pattern.  The dictionary defines "thoroughfare" as a road forming a route between two places, or "a way or place for passage: such as: a : a street open at both ends, b : a main road."  See merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thoroughfare.

Continuous use as a public thoroughfare is interrupted only when the regularly established pattern and frequency of public use for the given road has actually been interrupted for a period of no less than 24 hours to a degree that reasonably puts the traveling public on notice (for instance, by a locked gate or barricade preventing public access).  For interruptions by use of a barricade: (i) if at least 72 hours advance written notice of the interruption is given to the appropriate highway authority; and (ii) the barricade is in place for at least 24 consecutive hours, then an interruption will be deemed to have occurred.

Installation of gates and posting of no trespassing signs are relevant forms of evidence but are not solely determinative of whether an interruption has occurred.

Note that use by the “public” does not include use by those with permission (which includes guests, invitees, the UPS driver and so forth).

Once established, a public dedication can’t be terminated unless the county does so by following certain formal requirements.

*Takeaway:  If your association has private roads that are used by the general public as a route between two places and you want to maintain the private status of the roads, then every 9 or so years, you must close access to the roads by the public (but not by residents, guests and invitees) for at least 24 hours.  The association should maintain a file of notices of closure given to the applicable highway authority by the association, as well as other evidence of the closure, such as perhaps photos (properly dated and identifed, including who took the picture) of the barricade used for the closure, and also signed statements from two or three people, board members for instance, stating that the road was closed and for how long and on what date(s).

Note also that if the highway authority demands that a closure cease and the property owner accedes to the demand, then it does not count as an interruption.

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