At issue in this case is the ownership of a triangular parcel of land on Blue Hill Avenue in Boston (the triangle), and the rare situation of both parties with a potential claim to title denying ownership. Defendant City of Boston (the city) took the triangle in 1894 by eminent domain for the purpose of widening Blue Hill Avenue. The city never used the triangle and, in 1931, recorded a notice of discontinuance covering the triangle and other lands at the registry of deeds. It has never deeded the triangle back to its former owners, and no such deed has ever been accepted by those owners or their successors the plaintiffs being the latest in the chain.
The city contends that the plaintiffs predecessors reacquired title to the triangle as a result of the discontinuance or, alternatively, by adverse possession, and the plaintiff William Cranmore, as trustee of the Avenue Realty Trust, thus owns it today. The plaintiffs disagree, arguing that the notice of discontinuance was ineffective to reconvey title and that adverse possession never occurred because neither they nor their predecessors ever made a formal claim to ownership. Both the plaintiffs and the city have moved for summary judgment on these issues.
The defendant the Commonwealths Department of Environmental Protection (the DEP) (a party to this action by and through the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs) takes no position on these disputes, contending that the actual ownership of the triangle does not affect the validity of an administrative consent and penalty order the DEP issued against the trust. The DEP argues that this court has no jurisdiction over the merits of the plaintiffs claims against the DEP (in essence, a request that this court enjoin the DEP from enforcing the consent order if the court finds that the plaintiffs have no ownership interest in the triangle) because those claims arise under G.L. c. 21E and such claims are solely for the superior court. The DEP has thus moved to have the claims against it dismissed from the case.
For the reasons set forth in the courts Memorandum and Order on the Parties Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment of this date, I DENY the citys motion for summary judgment and ALLOW the plaintiffs. The citys notice of discontinuance was ineffective to reconvey title to the triangle or any part thereof, and the plaintiffs have not acquired title to that land by adverse possession. The city thus owns the triangle, in fee. Finally, I ALLOW the DEPs motion to dismiss the claims against it for lack of this courts subject matter jurisdiction. G.L. c. 21E issues, particularly as they involve the enforcement of DEP orders, are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the superior court. G.L. c. 21E, § 11.
By the court (Long, J.)