Land becomes appropriated to the public use by the vote or adjudication which declares that a street is laid over it, and the right of the owner to the exclusive use and occupation of it then ceases.
The mayor and the aldermen of the city passed a resolution to widen a city street and gave notice to the owners, tenants, and occupants of the land taken to remove all buildings and obstructions thereon. About 18 months later, the lessee gave notice to the mayor and the aldermen that he intended to build upon his property. An order of notice was passed, and a copy was served on the lessee, declaring the city's intention to widen the street and to take the land in question. No compensation was ever paid to the lessee. The trial court directed a verdict in favor of respondents on the ground that the assignees' claim was time-barred. The assignees in insolvency filed exceptions to a directed verdict.
May a lessee challenge a road widening after expiration of a state limitations period?
On appeal, the court overruled the assignees' exceptions. The court determined that the resolution initially passed by the mayor and the aldermen for the taking of the street began the one-year period of limitation under Mass. Rev. Stat. ch. 24, § 55 as that was the act that created the public right or easement over the land. The court held that the first laying out was not waived by the city because, once a way was laid out, it continued to be so until discontinued according to law.