But when they bought the house, the easement was right there on the survey, and they knew it (or should have known). No coercion involved.
Come on, this is like arguing that taxes aren't coercive because we all know we have to pay taxes when we choose to get up in the morning and we could all choose to go to a deserted island in the south pacific if we didn't want to pay taxes. The fact is, if you want to live in anything approximating civilization in the modern world, you are going to be paying taxes to some state somewhere. There is no practical way to avoid them and therefore I feel it is legitimate to say that they are a coercive act.
Easements are par for the course with pretty much any land parcelled up and sold today. For most people, trying to buy land and avoid some type of easement would be like trying to avoid death or taxes. Nor are such easements negotiable in any meaningful sense of the word. I therefore think it is perfectly legitimate to state that this is a form of coercion.
It was IN THE DEED THEY SIGNED."
I don't understand the idea that if something is signed that means that there can be no coercion or state force involved. To go back to taxes, you sign your tax return. Does this mean taxes aren't coercive? What if you refuse to sign? Then the state doesn't accept your return as legitimate and then the state comes after you for violating the law by not filing a legitimate tax return. The signature is a formality that doesn't address the underlying question of power and coercion.
There was no "state placing conditions on the ownership of property.
A deed is a legal instrument. It isn't as if property exists separate from the state and its legal measures. Utility easements don't exist because utilities went and negotiated agreements with each individual property owner and the property owner agreed to mutually satisfactory terms with the utility companies. They exist because a political determination was made that such easements facilitate infrastructure build and therefore the state requires that such things be regularly applied to most property as part of the process by which the state recognizes the legitimacy of property claims(such as a deed).
And what is this giant red herring you are introducing of corporations vs. individuals owning property? That has nothing to do with this and I'm baffled why you bring it in.
My point was simply that our outrage over state coercion is proportional to the extent to which that coercion affects the wealthy and powerful. Maybe we should feel similar outrage when coercion affects the small property holder as well. I think principle demands this.
The easements are existing agreements.
Of course they are existing agreements. Are you arguing that existing agreements can not be changed? Before modern utilities developed there were no utility easements. These utility easements later become legal conditions of ownership of property, so clearly the conditions of property ownership can be changed over time. As the circumstances surrounding utilities change, surely the state and society can effect a transformation of conditions of property ownership to reflect this? Certainly, at a minimum, easements on future property transfers could be changed to reflect changes in the status of telecommunications companies as utilities.
It might even be possible for the state to simply alter the status of classification as a utility without having to transform the easements themselves.
In the same way that utility easements developed to grant access to these companies, the access granted can be removed, by a similar process, as their status as utilities should disappear.
The easement does not say "if utilities are deregulated this easement is null and void".
If they are simply another deregulated provider of some service, that service is NOT viewed as important fundamental infrastructure and they no longer have universal service requirements should they even continue to be classified as utilities?