Who Is Liable For An Eruv?

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  JACKSON – The subject of eruv placement in the community came up again during a recent council meeting which addressed liability insurance.

  An eruv pole is used by some members of the Jewish faith on their property to string wire from, which symbolically encloses the property on their sabbath day. The township previously passed an ordinance allowing residents the ability to negotiate with utility companies to attach eruv to utility company poles.

  Resident Erik Jones asked about whether it was the township’s or a utility company’s responsibility regarding an eruv line that crosses a Jackson owned road.

  “I was curious if eruv lines are insured? Do they carry some kind of policy? Power companies are insured. I think a line should,” Jones added.

  It was noted that a person’s property would be covered under their homeowner’s insurance.

  “Most eruvs are on public property they are not on private property,” Jones responded.

  “If they were on public property the township would be responsible if something happened on a public facility such as if it was a township sign or pole. If it was a JCP&L pole they would have had to have given permission and it would be their responsibility,” Township Attorney Gregory McGucken said.

  “I don’t think the power company gives them authority to attach things,” Jones said.

  McGucken said, “I don’t think that is true. I think they do give permission.”

  Jones asked, “what if they have a pole in one yard and a pole in another yard and they have a line going across the street?”

  The resident was told that in that case both property owners could be responsible.

  “That is why I’m saying somebody should be insured because things do happen like in the winter time trees come down and pushes wires down. They don’t snap they are made of Kevlar,” Jones responded.

  Jones was told while insurance can’t be forced the homeowner would be responsible if there was damage done as a result of such a scenario.

  “If someone owns a home they will have homeowners’ insurance,” McGuken added.

  Jones repeated that “most of the poles are on public property.”

  McGucken said that in that case it would matter of “who built the pole, who put the pole up.

  Council President Andrew Kern clarified, “if it is attached to a utility pole that company’s pole whichever company owns the pole, they are responsible. Whoever’s pole it is, they are responsible.”

  “So, if I call the power company and they say they didn’t give permission I can take it off the pole, or will I be considered anti-Semitic?” Jones asked.

  “Sir this is something that we are not going to talk about and debate about what is anti-Semitic and what’s not. I’m not really looking for this forum to be about what you plan to do,” Kern replied.

  Kern added, “if you want to call JCP&L about the pole that is your right but currently the law is that if it’s their pole then they are responsible for whatever is on it.”

  “So, the town is not taking any responsibility for wires going across their road?” Jones asked again.

  “If it is a pole to a pole the homeowners would be responsible,” Kern replied.

  “The town shouldn’t let this be happening. You should be liable for something crossing your road,” Jones said.

  “We are not liable for something that crosses the (public) road,” McGucken said.

  Jones added, “you should be. It is not a utility. Utility companies have their own insurance.”

  Retired police officer and Jackson resident Richard Egan brought up a matter mentioned at a prior meeting. “At the last meeting we had a resident who lives in Whispering Hills and he (Kasey Smith) said he and members in his neighborhood were verbally harassed based on religion.”

  Egan noted that during the public comment period the speaker said, “personal property was damaged and the most egregious was assaults on their person based on their religious background. These are very serious crimes. We have an obligation to see if this is fact or fantasy.

  “If this is happening, we need to find these people and arrest them and try them,” Egan added. He asked Business Administrator Terence Wall if there were any reports that would confirm that such incidents were being investigated.

  Wall said he would be unable to speak about that as it might be an open police investigation.