Digital revolution butts heads with property rights

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Patricia and J. Paul Preseault own property adjoining a railroad track easement that was created in 1899. Railroad service ended in 1970, and the easement was abandoned in 1975. Sometime during the 1950s, under a state law allowing public utility poles and wires to be installed alongside railroad tracks, electric power lines were erected along the railroad easement. After the railroad was abandoned, the power lines and poles remained. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. In recent years, the city installed fiber-optic cable on the poles several feet below the electric power lines. The Preseaults objected, arguing installation of fiber-optic cable over the easement on their property without payment to them violated the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment. But the city replied it installed the fiber-optic lines within the power-line easement area, and the additional wire did not block the view or otherwise interfere with the Preseaults' use of their property. If...