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karmahappens posted 6/3/2014 10:21 AM

Sorry if this is long, I think my only option will be to see an attorney...but hoping not to.

We live on a lake,in Massachusetts, my family has been here since the 20's.

Next to our property sits a parcel of land that used to be considered a right-of-way for folks on our street to use to gain access.

Recently we have a man who comes down from another part of town. Took his boat and left in in the right-of-way and thinks it's public access and ok to do so.

Stories within our family have always been that my grandfather owned the property and gifted it for the folks on this street to use.


We, our neighbors and the person across the street don't want people down there. We are on a small quiet street and people suck, bring their dogs and leave their trash (and boats) kids go on our property, god forbid one of them gets hurt.


I went to the registry of deeds and the parcel shows up with no name, no taxes have been paid on it etc.

The woman said I have to go to the registry for the county, the info I need is too old for the town's data base.

Problem there, is the stuff I was able to look up I couldn't decipher. She advised me that she could show me records but could not interpret them.

Does anyone know of an easier solution than hiring an attorney? I fear the money it may cost to have it turn out to be just a public way.

I really want to put up no trespassing signs, but I know this new gentleman believes its his right to be there and I honestly don't know....generations of talk and stories change.

Any experience out there?

Thanks

woundedwidow posted 6/3/2014 10:27 AM

You could try hiring a surveyor; they will generally check over the legal records for the property and may be able to decipher them. Are there land records for it (not deeds.)? I know my county has plats and land records and you can get the info that way, assuming you can read those.

cayc posted 6/3/2014 10:44 AM

If you weren't able to understand the records that you saw, then you would need a title attorney. But if this is county land (and it sounds like if there ever was a private owner, they've abanonded it), there should be a county official you could ask about the area.

But I'm confused, if it has been treated as public access by generations, and a private party is blocking that public access, you might just be able to call the county sheriff and ask him/her to speak to the boat owner.

karmahappens posted 6/3/2014 10:44 AM

I am sure there are records at the county deed office. I just don't know how to get to them. Navigating their website was difficult enough....

To locate what I am looking for seems as though it might be a task for someone with knowledge.

I am going to get down there on a day off next week and hopefully see what help I can find.

I did call an atty, maybe he can advise me of the cost to figure it out. I thought a surveyor would go with our current deed to evaluate the plot, not sure how far back they will go. Might be worth a call.

karmahappens posted 6/3/2014 11:31 AM

But I'm confused, if it has been treated as public access by generations, and a private party is blocking that public access, you might just be able to call the county sheriff and ask him/her to speak to the boat owner.

That's the issue. it hasn't been treated as "public". There are 4 houses on my street with no access to the lake. They are the ones it is available for. I grew up believing (as did everyone else here) that the lake was private, land-locked and the right-of-way granted for those 4 homes.

Back in the day you would say "that's private property" and people would move along....not anymore.

Folks see an opening and believe it is theirs to use.

I need to find out the truth, I don't want to harass this man, but I also don't want him, his friends and their kids to start using it as their own. The street is too small and the people on my side yard would drive me crazy.

But...if it is indeed a public way then I have no rights to say anything.

My husband spoke with this gentleman and asked he not leave his boat and the gentleman ignored him and left it anyways. He is coming down quite frequently now and giving us looks like ha...stop me.

I just hope the family stories are true and it's private .... waiting for the atty to call me back.

marchmadness posted 6/3/2014 11:46 AM

"I grew up believing (as did everyone else here) that the lake was private, land-locked and the right-of-way granted for those 4 homes."

I know you are trying to find out about the actual land leading to the lake, but is there an understanding as to who owns the lake itself? I would think liability is a concern.

sisoon posted 6/3/2014 12:03 PM

If this guy is leaving his boat in the public ROW, isn't that tantamount to expropriating public land? Shouldn't the authorities confiscate, or at least fine, the boat?

TrustedHer posted 6/3/2014 12:06 PM

In Illinois (which is probably little help), a de facto right of way is created when public use is granted for a period of years.

Basically, you lose the right to restrict access if you never restrict access. Even if you clearly own the land.

An attorney may be your best bet, but I think you probably don't have any real options.

k94ever posted 6/3/2014 12:42 PM

In Wisconsin the lakes are considered publicly owned. However it's the land around it that can be privately owned.

If your family did own that land at one time, unless there are documents stated he deeded that land to whatever type of association the neighborhood called itself, it would have been considered abandoned by the owner since no taxes have been paid. The question then is did the county assume ownership of the property?

If it is found to belong to your family....are you going to be responsible for the years worth of back taxes?

k9

karmahappens posted 6/4/2014 06:05 AM

I have wondered about being responsible for the back taxes. If it is ours and we can have it I would be willing to pay them.

And liability is a huge concern for us, I mostly worry about the kids coming on our property from the right of way...

He was back again yesterday. We haven't said a word to him since we asked he not leave the boat there and he ignored the request.

His looks could kill though, I am not sure what he is trying to prove but he is smug. If the land is ours I can't wait to remove that boat....

I could call the town and have it removed, but until I find out our trut position I don't want to start a pissing contest with the guy, kwim?

Thanks for the advice guys...still waiting on the c/b from the atty. Might need to find another one for a consult if he doesn't respond.

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