Colonial state road bed ownership question
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.)
- 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?
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.
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
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
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.