A recorded plat may be sufficient to disclose a landowner's intent to dedicate property to public use. If a landowner subdivides and plats an area of land into lots and streets and then sells lots with reference to the plat, the owner manifests an intent to dedicate those common areas to be used by both the purchasers and the public, absent evidence of a contrary intent.
A dispute arose between cross-appellant city and appellant landowner over the ownership and use of three areas of property adjoining appellant’s beachfront motel and residence. The master-in-equity found appellant held "record title" to a beach area, but found the area to have been dedicated and thus subject to the public's right to use and enjoy a portion of it and to cross-appellant's right to maintain that portion. The master also found cross-appellant had accepted a dedication of and held title to two rights-of-way, and found these rights-of-way subject to the rights of the public to use them as walkways and as driveways. Appellant and cross-appellant filed cross-appeals. The landowner's appeal concerns dedication while that involved in the city’s cross-appeal concerns the extent to which cross-appellant may maintain and control the two walkways. The appellate court affirmed the master’s decision.
Were the disputed appellant landowner’s areas of property or plat dedicated to public use in the absence of any evidence that the areas are dedicated for public use?
The plat filed when the property was originally developed unequivocally manifested the developer's intent to offer the beach area to the use of the public. The offer to dedicate the area was accepted, as evidenced by the public's use and cross-appellant's improvements. Appellants' payment of taxes on the disputed property did not prevent cross-appellant from claiming the property under a completed dedication because the record did not contain any evidence that appellant or any of the predecessors in interest disputed the cross-appellant's improvements or the public's interest in the property, or that appellant notified cross-appellant that it had paid taxes. The court did not address the claim that the master's order limited cross-appellant's discretionary authority to maintain and control public thoroughfares because the master did not address the issue.