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Town of Bedford v. Cerasuolo

Appeals Court of Massachusetts

May 13, 2004, Argued ; September 20, 2004, Decided

No. 03-P-1155

Opinion

 [**563]   [*74]  GREENBERG, J. This appeal concerns the defendants' proposed use of an easement, crossing a bicycle path owned by the town of Bedford,  [**564]  to provide access for the defendants' landlocked parcel on which they hope to build ten apartment buildings containing a total of 258 units. After a bench trial, a Land Court judge ruled that the private crossing shown on a 1929 plan was available for the defendants' purposes as an easement by implication, so that the defendants could use it for vehicular access to the proposed housing development and to provide [***2]  connections for all utilities. The town filed this appeal. We vacate the judgment and remand for further findings.

The background facts are taken from the judge's July 11, 2003, written decision, which we supplement with undisputed matter from the record. Rose C. Cerasuolo, as trustee of R.C.C. Realty Trust, owns two parcels of undeveloped land in Bedford. Cerasuolo claims easement rights connecting the two parcels over an intersecting piece of town property, sixty-five feet in width,

that formerly served as a railroad bed. When originally purchased by the Middlesex Central Railroad Company in 1873, 4 the strip of land, referred to by the parties as parcel B, had the effect of dividing a large tract of farmland held in common ownership by the seller, one Henry Wood. Wood's conveyance to the railroad left the larger of Wood's parcels, referred to as the southern parcel, landlocked. Various transfers of the northern and southern Wood parcels followed, but the two parcels, currently owned by Cerasuolo as trustee, have remained in common ownership, separated by parcel B.

 [***3]  While no express easement was included in Wood's original transfer of parcel B to the railroad, it appears from a subsequent plan and related documents that there evolved over the railroad bed three crossings, which connected the southern parcel to Wood's northern parcel and a public way. These crossings are  [*75]  referred to as crossing A, crossing C (also described as the cattle pass), and "private crossing."

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62 Mass. App. Ct. 73 *; 818 N.E.2d 561 **; 2004 Mass. App. LEXIS 1493 ***

TOWN OF BEDFORD & others 1 vs. ROSE C. CERASUOLO, trustee, 2 & others. 3

Subsequent History:  [***1]  

On remand at, Findings of fact/conclusions of law at, Sub nomine at Feltman v. Cerasuolo, 2005 Mass. LCR LEXIS 104 (2005)

Prior History: Suffolk. Civil action commenced in the Land Court Department on July 17, 2001. The case was heard by Karyn F. Scheier, J.

Town of Bedford v. Cerasuolo, 814 N.E.2d 1162, 2004 Mass. App. LEXIS 1063 (Mass. App. Ct., 2004)

Feltman v. Cerasuolo, 11 Mass. LCR LEXIS 151 (2003)

Disposition: Judgment of land court vacated; case remanded to land court with directions.

CORE TERMS

crossing, parcel, easement, railroad, width, parties, instruments, northern, easement by necessity, defendants', easement rights, severance, feet, easement by implication, common ownership, conveyance, landlocked, deed, normal development, right of way, agricultural, purposes, rights, Acres, proposed use, connections, residential, conveyed

Real Property Law, Easements, Easement Creation, Easement by Necessity, Encumbrances, Limited Use Rights, General Overview, Easement by Implication, Civil Procedure, Judicial Officers, Judges, Adjoining Landowners, Adverse Possession, Defenses, Easement by Prescription, Trials, Bench Trials, Appeals, Record on Appeal