Real Estate Law
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Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to helping you today.
Yes, he can. The fact that you own the land is enough to give them jurisdiction over you. If you want to go to the trouble of hiring a lawyer and suing then there are some defenses you can use that would have a good chance of working. They are all based on a form of "waiver", but the specific defenses are waiver, laches, and consent along with, possibly, statute of limitations. Essentially what you would be arguing is that since the government knew that the prior owners had created all of these items and chose not to do anything and therefore they can't do anything now.
These are what are known as affirmative defenses which admit there is a violation but states the violation should be overlooked.
If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work. Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered.
So the government can make me spend time and money taking things off the federal land that I did not put there just because my property is adjacent?
Does the prior owner have any legal responsibility to the government?
The government could, in theory, clean the spot up themselves and then sue him for the cost. However, that's not likely to happen since they can go against you and make you clean it up. You may be able to sue him for the cost of your having to do clean up though.
You say that your land is "adjacent". Do you mean the things they are telling you to remove are not on land you own?
You're very welcome and I wish I had better news for you but the government is tough to work with, particularly the Corps of Engineers.