Removing cable / telephone box from property
March 20, 2016 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Bought a property last year and after clearing out brush, found that the old school green telephone and cable boxes were still on the property. How do I go about removing these

After clearing out a decent amount of brush that hadn't been cleared in at least 10 years, I discovered that the old school telephone and cable boxes were still on the property. They are all held closed with black electrical tape and as far as I can tell are not in use although as the last picture shows, are not rusted out either.

I don't have cable, the last owner didn't have cable (directTV) and DSL is the only internet option. I do have some coax cables running into my house, but they are unused and I was going to snip them this spring. My googling tells me that the zenith number is apparently something that was used back in the 50-60s as a direct connection to whoever owns that box and I believe that belongs to the now defunct Bell telephone company. I don't have a landline outside of the DSL connection however, I believe they ran a new line for that.

My question - how do I call to verify that these are not used, and how do I go about removing them? I want to landscape in the exact area they are in, so they are in the way as it's one of the more sunny areas of my yard and are frankly an eye sore.
posted by lpcxa0 to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My property has a utilities right of way along the back and one side of the lot. Even if the boxes don't serve your house, they may contain cables that still serve other houses in your neighborhood.

I would call your local "utility locators". It's their job to know what's buried in your yard so you don't accidentally inconvenience or endanger yourself and your neighbors.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:56 AM on March 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

I would try calling 811 first to see if anyone there would be able to help locate the most current utility that is responsible for these boxes. At the very least, you can have them come out and mark all active lines and see if there are any active lines coming in to or out of these boxes since it might not serve your property but the property of other people in the area too.
posted by Nackt at 10:57 AM on March 20, 2016

I'd also point out that if you ever plan to sell the house, having no possibility of getting cable might be a problem. If there's a way to achieve your goals without physically snipping/removing the coax, it seems like that would be a wise route to take.
posted by primethyme at 11:19 AM on March 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Step one is call 811. They will help you with step two.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:35 AM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Those utilities most likely have an easement on your property.
posted by lamp at 12:13 PM on March 20, 2016

I disagree that the boxes are no longer in-use. At least, the cable box looks to be in-use. Whether they are or not, they aren't something you should mess with, since they aren't your property and, most likely, sitting in the easement.

I wouldn't snip the cables entering your home, either. Generally speaking, anything outside the walls of your home (like cables) are the property of whichever service ran them to your home. There's no real reason to cut them, other than aesthetics.

I have a set of similar boxes sitting at the far corner of my back yard. The drops run to my home as well as the three other homes abutting my property. They're not in much better shape than yours, but they're definitely in use.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:27 PM on March 20, 2016

Response by poster: Well this question has taken a much different direction that I anticipated but all good to know - triple checked my closing documents, mortgage paperwork, title search, title insurance and nothing is mentioning an easement on the property for utilities. The only thing in the closing documents that are not dealing with the title or mortgage is a well disclosure form.

I'm kinda OK if I have an easement on my property for them, but I'd like the respective companies out here to at least inspect and touch them up as they are literally only closed by electrical tape that someone did.

I'm not even sure if the previous owners would have been aware of an easement on the property - so I guess my next question is, what are the next steps to finding out if I have an easement on my property?
posted by lpcxa0 at 12:35 PM on March 20, 2016

Response by poster: Hmm, now this is interesting - even the plat map, property information or anything on the assessor's website is showing any type of easement on the property.

I'll contact the county office tomorrow to see if they have anything.
posted by lpcxa0 at 1:34 PM on March 20, 2016

It's possible that someone just stole this stuff and left it on your property - the main reason I think this is a possibility is the probability that people searching for copper would think it's worth a shot. In my brief time working for a phone company, "idiots looking for copper" was a major hassle.

Still, I'd try to get a utility to take it off my land for me if at all possible. They have procedures and "screwing around with wires" insurance.
posted by SMPA at 2:49 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

You would be amazed at how beat up a phone or cable junction box can be, and still be usable.

I was at a steel mill where a building had a floor removed to be retro fitted for an overhead lift system. The entrance bridge was 30 feet up, accessible only by an extension ladder, and covered in slag. The phone still worked, (kind of).

After hurricane Andrew, entrance bridges and foundations were the only things standing in some places. If you plugged a phone in., you'd get dial tone and the line worked.

So call the utilities and have them come out to check it out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:10 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Those look like 100% average in-use equipment. In all likeliness they are meant to service more than just your house. They could easily be providing your DSL. These boxes are a basic part of wiring the whole neighborhood, in much the same way that a telephone pole would be.
posted by kiltedtaco at 4:11 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Call utilities location services.

If they are connected to a public network, contact the appropriate utility.
posted by humboldt32 at 5:22 PM on March 20, 2016

Agreed they look in-use, and should be on your survey as a utility easement. This looks like the back-corner of your lot with 2 neighbors ?

I just pulled up my house in the county property info/GIS viewer. It shows the storm water easements, but not the utility easements (they are the same location -- the first 8 or 10 feet of my yard from the road), so that's interesting.

But I really like the old telephone number on the picture - Zenith-2345, that's waay oldschool..
posted by k5.user at 8:19 AM on March 21, 2016

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