What are right-of-ways, easements, etc.?

There are three different types of areas within a city that are often confused with city right-of-ways. They are each different and are maintained by different entities. The three are:

  • Right-of-Ways
  • Easements
  • Common Ground


Right-of-ways are the responsibility of the city or the governing entity for that street. In the City of Ferguson this could include St. Louis County (Elizabeth, Chambers, Hereford, Airport, Bermuda, Hudson, West Florissant) or MoDot (State of Missouri - Florissant Road and Pershall Road). These generally include the street, sidewalk, and the tree lawn area between the street and the sidewalk.

The individual homeowner is generally responsible for maintaining the grass, leaves, trash, and small branches that are located in the tree lawn, the city, county, or state maintains the trees in the public right-of-ways. This is the only one of the three types of areas discussed that the city is responsible for maintain. The city is generally not responsible for anything located in the rear / behind a property. Those areas are usually easements or common ground. Sidewalks are the homeowner’s responsibility.


Easements are the areas on private property that legally allow utilities the right to work on and/or place utility equipment on, over, or under. The property owner / homeowner is responsible for the maintenance for this property and still owns this property, but the utility companies have access and can remove items placed on the easement.

Common Ground

Common ground is owned by a subdivision and is the responsibility of the residents, usually through a board of trustees or similar group. In many cases the adjacent property owners are responsible for the maintenance in the case of no existing subdivision board of trustees or similar group.

Additional Information

If you have an issue concerning a tree located in the public right-of-way or have another concern involving the public right-of-way, please contact the Ferguson Public Works Municipal Services - Street Division at 314-521-8373.  Other contacts for public right-of-way Issues:

St. Louis County - 314-615-8538

MoDot - 314-340-4100

Show All Answers

1. How is Street Paving and Maintenance prioritized?
2. How can I report a pothole, code violation, etc.?
3. When snow is forecasted, what should I do?
4. Who is responsible for creeks and streams in the City?
5. What are right-of-ways, easements, etc.?