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ashton
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This question is only for my education, and since it concerns ownership of a road bed of a road that is unlikely to be "thrown up" for a long time, there are no practical issues. The property is in Vermont.

The question is how to project the line between two properties (A & B) when you get to the road. (On the drawing, the curvy line is one version of the road and the gap between the parcels is another version of the road; we all know better than to believe a tax map.)

Timeline:

  • November 3, 1810, the Belgo Road was laid out by the town. Width specified as 3 rods.
  • By July 17, 1970, Wheeler owns what will become A, B, and C. This being a town road in Vermont, and no deed to the contrary being found, Wheeler owns the road bed and the people have a highway easement.
  • July 18, 1970, Wheeler sells C to Mehringer. Wording of deed describes ownership to southern edge of road, for example, 'Beginning at an iron pipe in the southerly line of the "Belgo Road"...then South 58°-30' East a distance of ... (225.0) feet along the southerly line of the "Belgo Road"...to an iron pipe set in the Southerly line of said highway...'
  • April 24, 1973, Wheeler sells A to Dutton but keeps B for several years

My conclusion is that since the sale of C clearly does not include the road bed, Wheeler retains the road bed. But when Wheeler sells A, the road bed would be orphaned, so even though the deed selling A describes the lot as only extending as far as the northerly line of the road, nevertheless the road bed is included in the sale of A.

So the question is, should the line between A and B be extended in the same direction across the road, or should it run across the road perpendicular to the road?

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JPH
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Perpendicular.  If they hadn't been in common ownership, I'd expect that it would continue into the road along an extension of line A/B.

I'd revisit the idea that C doesn't own any of the road bed.

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Paul in PA
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If the road is not being vacated, why question it? Which I will go on to answer.

One reason is lot size. In PA and NJ fee ownership of ROW goes with lot whether described or not. The ROW was generally taken? by a Road 
Return Survey which shows the intent to use a ROW of a prescribed width from a described centerline. Over the yaers the ROW in use could move from that geometry via continued maintenance and improvement. If the road return tried to follow lot lines and that description was carried forward over the centuries one can show that geometry as underlying title rather than ROW centerline. Assuming a lot in a 1 care zone that is 1.05ac to centerline but taxed as 0.93ac useable land, the law considers that a conforming lot. I have had several occasions to show that over the years but it is not necessary to do so for an overtly conforming lot. Being in PA where direction has precedence over distance the bearing of the side lot line is continued unless other record shows differently. 

Your conclusion that Wheeler sold C without the roadbed is wrong. Without out any description or reference the roadbed to centerline passed with the lot (Settled Law). Also to B. The line should be extended along the A/C line to the centerline. There may be question to the the West line of A extending across the road to the NW corner of C, but that requires analysis of the description of the lot West of A.

Paul in PA

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ashton
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@paul-in-pa I will provide another answer to "If the road is not being vacated, why question it?" When creating a drawing, showing the correct boundary for the fee as well as the ROW should inspire confidence among knowledgeable readers, just like correct spelling and punctuation.

As for the boundary between A and the lots to the west, McIntyre sold it to the adjoinder to the west, Cornwell, April 4, 1960, and described the line as "running easterly and north-easterly along the northerly line of said Belgo Road and the westerly line of Grandpa's Knob Road, so-called, ...." It appears McIntyre owned both sides of Grandpa's Knob Rd. at the time; the deed selling the land to McIntyre is from 1912, only names the adjoinders without giving any landmarks, and makes no mention of any roads at all. My friend the town clerk and I can't find the record for laying out Grandpa's Knob Rd.; it seems to have been a public road by the 1940s.

The lot to the southwest of A was contained in a lot sold December 1958 from Graziano to Smith, and the line along the Belgo was described "thence easterly along the said Belgo road to the point of beginning". This language seems to pretty clearly convey to the center line, so the southwest chunk of the Belgo/Grandpa's Knob intersection belongs to the successors of Smith.

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Jumbomotive
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@paul-in-pa Not so fast re: Lot C's ownership of the road when created https://caselaw.findlaw.com/vt-supreme-court/1858127.html

Subdivider owns both sides of the road. The description creates no unintended leftover strip, and there is no ambigious call (i.e. "along the road") as to the line's location. There is no legal presumption in play that would place the boundary anywhere other than described in the deed. In the cited case, the intent of the subdivider was supported by a survey, but if you read the decision, its clear to me that OP's description would be upheld just the same. Note the references to a 1896 case that created the "to-the-centerline" presumption, and why that does not hold here. Had the subdivider NOT owned across the road, it would be a different story.

Do other jurisdictions really codify this in a manner that alters the clearly stated intent of the subdivider? 

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Paul in PA
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@jumbomotive

I believe the Court was miss represented the facts. C had frontage along his entirety and could access at any point. A had no language limiting C's use to a single family dwelling or a driveway of limited width or location. A may well have had fee title to the roadway but that in no way limited C's use and access to that roadway. If the Court believed that A's ownnership could restrict C's use they have in fact allowed a spite strip to be created. Numerous court cases have overthrown the specific language that created many spite strips. In fact A has made use of the entirety C limited as if it were landlocked and that includes if A had actually had fee title in front of C, not just in the ROW. In that case C would be entitled to a driveway of necessity.

Paul in PA

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Jumbomotive
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@paul-in-pa I understand, what you're saying. I assume the spite strip you are referring to is between the edge of the ROW and the edge of the road? Since this is entirely within the ROW, the Town that has substantial control of activities within it, not just the underlying landowner. The Town also controls the establishment of access points to the road: you may have a theoretical right to access anywhere...doesn't mean you actually can. Assuming that the passing of farm equipment doesn't impede C's access to the road or the Public's use thereof, I don't see the "spite" any more than if the equipment was passing adjacent to any other line of the 1 acre C in question. 

The question is, in the cited case, where would you show the property line? Sure the Courts have overthrown specific language creating spite strips, but didn't the plaintiffs need to demonstrate that the useful enjoyment of their property was be adversely impacted by the establishment of the strip? I guess I've always looked at this like adverse possession: I may have an opinion, based on the facts as I understand them as to whether things have ripened into ownership. But until the Court has their say, show the record, show the possession, report the facts...and let the Court do their thing.

 

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aliquot
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@paul-in-pa

Questions like, "if it is not being vacated why question it." are the bane of our profession. We question it, becasue we are paid to find the boundaries of our clients. Not questioning it, means the boundary on our plat is not actually the boundary, which means we have failed. 

The lazy cost cutting attitudes iof many in our profession that result in surveyors saying things like, "it doesn't matter, the road is never moving" betrays a lack of creative thinking. Never is a long time. We all encounter problems created by those who came before us who had the same narrow short term mindset. Living in our own "enlightened" time doesn't mean we are immune from this pitfall. 

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James Vianna
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Posted by: @paul-in-pa

Your conclusion that Wheeler sold C without the roadbed is wrong. Without out any description or reference the roadbed to centerline passed with the lot (Settled Law).

Bingo, same here in NY

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Dave Karoly
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The general presumption is that half the road R/W conveys. An intention to retain the R/W by the grantor must be clearly stated in the Deed in order to overcome the presumption. Usually a call to the sideline, even if monumented, is not sufficient to overcome the presumption. Certainly I see nothing in the law or facts that would give A the entire road; that may be what you want it to be but that's not the law.

I see nothing in the case as you have presented it that would overcome the presumption of each lot extending to the centerline. Lot lines extend perpendicular to the centerline unless it existed before the road.

Often courts justify going beyond called for monumented R/W or creek banks by reasoning that it is impractical to set monuments in the centerline or thalweg of a creek.

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Jumbomotive
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@dave-karoly So, had the deed to A specifically included the road, would we assert that it could only go to the centerline because C already owned it? Two deeds from the same Grantor codifying the same line along the southerly ROW? It's just that as I've always understood it...and as supported by the case I linked, that the presumption of the centerline is based around 1) ambiguous calls "to the road", "along the road", etc;  2) unintended remainder strips along the road, 3) actual spite strips clearly intended to adversely impact the exercise of rights on an adjacent property. The first two are calls that I'm comfortable making, the third I'm going to leave to the Court. But when none of them are in play, do you still call it the centerline?

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ashton
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@jumbomotive The thought I had about the sequence of the deeds is a deed must be located on the ground according to what is contained within the text of the deed, plus other sources of information that clarify the parties' intent at the time of transfer. We can look at all the deeds, created over several years, and discern that the parties were under the misapprehension that the town owned the roadbed in fee. But that conclusion cannot be drawn if we only consider the evidence in existence on July 18, 1970. So is it kosher to discern McIntyre's intent on July 18, 1970, on the basis of deeds he granted later?

If it is legitimate to consider documents dated later than July 18, 1970, perhaps we could infer that if McIntyres knew they owned the roadbed, they would have conveyed to the center line.

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Paul in PA
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@ashton

Quite often in land survey disputes, courts are willing to accept the opinion of courts in other states that is more specifically on point.

PLSS states do not generally look to Colonial States, nor vice versa.

Colonial States precedents quite often predate US law and very often come from The English King's Law.

This topic was brought up without benefit of knowing what the point of the questions matters, because in all things legal", "it depends".

Paul in PA

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Dave Karoly
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@jumbomotive

still reading...I don’t think the cases give the road to any of the Grantees...

F793CD7F F533 48BE 8E14 4720D290F9C9
B86FCD29 1DD7 4EF4 B134 6F1530547609
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Dave Karoly
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@jumbomotive

thus one seems to support what I posted:

279C5CFC 19C8 4A64 9AC6 9570A7AC09F4
99011678 CF37 46BE 946C 3D79100D370A
B39FC5D4 3EC9 4EEF B4C6 98E0EC43EDB6
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Dave Karoly
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@jumbomotive

here is some excerpts from Buck v. Squiers, it has a fairly blistering dissent:

3D2112B3 4BAD 408E B021 AF4297FA4B0C
46A80040 39DA 49CB BE3E AFECD3854633
B85C4C3D CC81 408C 92DA 0467421ACA25
A3F2D597 0A91 4676 8EF5 7482E165F54C
7083C0D8 BD47 46E2 A051 B4CEB6EE1A7B
1744BDBF 2036 450E 9020 0A3F49A54E72
ED6A659F 59DC 44AD 8D46 6038E649BBD1
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aliquot
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@dave-karoly

What Dave describes is the law in the vast majority of states. In almost every state a call like "to the west boundary of the ROW" will convey title to the centerline unless there is a very explicit statement to the contrary; however Vermont seems to not follow the majority.

This may be a case of Vermont not having a fully developed case history on the subject. What often happens is that over time the states converge as courts discover the unforeseen (to them) consequences of a minority view. In this case the unforeseen consequences that other states have discovered is a stateless littered with strips of land with no clear title. 

Vermont likely has not confronted this problem yet becasue it is one of the few (only?) colonial states that don't allow vacation by abandonment

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ashton
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@dave-karoly Your post at May 29, 2020, 4:35 pm states that a call to a monument at the edge of the road is not sufficient to overcome the presumption that conveyance is to the centerline. But the deed puts it a bit more strongly, it states 'along the southerly line of the "Belgo Road"'.

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Dave Karoly
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@ashton

you seem to be correct with respect to C.

How are A and B described?

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ashton
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@dave-karoly After selling C in 1970, the Wheelers sold what would later become A and B A to the Duttons on April 24, 1973. The relevant language is

Beginning at an iron pipe set in the northerly line of Town Highway No. 29 (BelgoRoad), ...[ties described]... thence proceeding along the northerly line of Town Highway No. 29, North 58° 33' West a distance of 36.5 feet to a point; thence 55° 24' West a distance of 134.3 feet to an iron pipe set at a stone wall corner; thence continuing North 58° 33' West a distance of about 32.0 feet to the centerline of Town Highway No. 30; thence proceeding in a northerly direction along the centerline of Town Highway No. 30 a distance of about 312 feet to the center of a 5 foot diameter culvert...

(Town Highway 30 is Grandpa's Knob Road.) This deed does not mention a survey. Since it mixes measurements characteristic of a survey with measurements which might be made by a property owner, I suspect it was prepared without the benefit of a survey.

Wheelers retained B for a while. I don't have the deed where they sold it, but I've seen it and the language is entirely consistent with the deed for A, and with the 1962 deed where the Wheelers obtained what would become A & B from the Altruis.

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Dave Karoly
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@ashton

the California Courts have ruled that a metes and bounds description presumes there was a survey. It is a logical conclusion that survey measurements (direction and distance to monuments) came from a survey.

This appears to leave the street in the hands of the original grantor which is a result contrary to good policy since disputes can arise decades after the original grantor is long gone so the Courts will waste a lot of time trying to solve the case. See the dissenting opinion in Burk vs Squiers. This paragraph is more a comment on what the law should be than what it actually is, Courts sometimes don't adequately consider the consequences of their common law rule making.

It would be interesting to see if the Vermont Courts have weighed in on this rule more recently, they declined to follow it in the 1974 case I posted above.

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Jumbomotive
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@dave-karoly Dave, here's the link I posted above in my initial response to the "decided law" cry. 2017. https://caselaw.findlaw.com/vt-supreme-court/1858127.html

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