Easement by necessity can be widened and its uses can be expanded

The Virginia Supreme Court held in Palmer v. R.A. Yancey Lumber Co., 803 S.E.2d 742 (Va. 2017) that an easement by necessity is not limited to uses existing at the time the easement was created by severance of the parcels creating a landlocked parcel with a need to traverse the servient estate to obtain access to the dominant property. An easement created in 1828 was used for road access and transportation of timber. More than a hundred years later, the Virginia Supreme Court not only allowed new methods of transportation to be used (tractor-trailers) but allowed the road to be widened to accommodate the new uses. Because the easement guarantees access to the dominant estate and the ability to use it effectively, the use of the easement can expand to accommodate the new uses to which the dominant estate is put. There is a limitation that the easement cannot be widened in a way that is more than minimal and any increased intensity of uses must not subject the servient estate to an unreasonable burden.