Legal and Physical Access
One of the first issues to verify and understand when buying a property is the parcel’s legal and physical points of access. In many instances, rural properties gain access through another property, via an access easement or private road. This is in contrast to many urban and suburban properties that front directly onto a publicly owned and maintained street. You should understand the access rights and responsibilities associated with the private road or access easement, as they may limit the type or intensity of uses allowed on your parcel, either now or in the future. There may also be significant ongoing commitments to financially contribute to the maintenance, grading, and snow plowing. For more information visit the Douglas County Rural Roadway Design and Technical Criteria.
The County requires the issuance of a driveway permit in conjunction with a requested building permit. Depending on the size and topography of your property, driveway feasibility may dictate the location of your home or other structures. Details on the driveway permitting process can be found at Apply for Permits – Driveway
As a current or prospective rural resident, you should be aware that emergency response times can be significantly slower in certain parts of Douglas County. In times of severe weather, response times may be further reduced.
Slower emergency response times can affect property owners in several ways. Not only can it affect health in a medical emergency, it may also affect the cost of your homeowner’s insurance due to the higher potential for wildfire damage and loss. The County Assessor’s records will indicate which fire district your property is located within should you wish to check what services are available and what insurance (“ISO”) rating the district has been given.
Please refer to the map of the Douglas County Fire Protection Districts.
Many roads within the rural portions of Douglas County are not owned or maintained by the County. For private roads, it will be the responsibility of the residents using the road, or formal property owner’s association if one exists, to undertake regularly required snow plowing, grading, or paving efforts. For County owned and maintained roads in lower-density rural areas, services, snow plowing, in particular, may not occur as quickly as residents might desire. Living in rural areas may also mean that there is only one way in and out of a property. In the event of a road closure, you may be kept from entering or leaving your property for a limited period of time.
Unpaved roads generate dust, which can be viewed as a nuisance for many rural residents. If a road is unpaved, it is unlikely that it will be paved in the near future. You are encouraged to check with Douglas County when a statement is made by a seller or real estate agent indicating that an unpaved road will be paved. There are programs available at the County level that can be used to secure paving at a materials-only price if the majority of the subdivision residents agree to participate. Information on this program is available on the County’s website at the link below. Please be aware that these programs are only available for County-owned roads, not private roads or access easements. For more information please visit gravel roads in Douglas County
The County routinely applies magnesium chloride to County-owned gravel roads with a significant amount of daily trips. Applications occur on an annual basis and can substantially improve air quality conditions by controlling particulate dust pollution.
It can be difficult for large construction vehicles to navigate small, narrow roads or portions of a property with significant vegetation or changes in grade. When building a new home, it is important to evaluate the possibilities of construction access, along with increased time and expense to deliver materials to the site.
Designated School Bus Routes
Getting children to local schools in rural areas can be more challenging than in a more urban setting. School buses typically travel only on maintained county roads that have been designated as school bus routes by the school district. Children may have to be driven to the nearest bus stops along designated routes in order for them to utilize the district’s services.
Information on Douglas County School District bus routes can be found by visiting Douglas County School District bus routes
There are several charter school and private school options available in Douglas County. Generally, families must arrange their own transportation to these facilities.