This case was filed December 30, 2005 and concerns the use of a private road in Bedford, Massachusetts, known as Bagley Avenue. Christine McGovern and Anthony S. Leonti [Note 1] own of record Lot 151A, situated on the westerly side of Bagley Avenue. Francis J. McGovern and Phyllis A. McGovern own of record Lot 1 (145 Hartwell Avenue), situated on the easterly half of Bagley Avenue. Following trial, on May 19, 2008, the court (Piper, J.) rendered findings of fact and rulings of law from the bench, which as transcribed by the court reporter, constituted the decision in this case. Judgment entered on January 5, 2009, which declared the rights of the parties in and to Bagley Avenue. Defendants filed a notice of appeal on February 3, 2009.
The Land Court received the rescript from the Appeals Court on February 15, 2011, pursuant to the Appeals Courts published opinion, McGovern v. McGovern, 77 Mass. App. Ct. 688 (2010). The Land Courts January 5, 2009 Judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case remanded for further proceedings. The subsequent proceedings in the Land Court were to determine the parties parking rights, if any, in Bagley Avenue, and, in particular, in a 20' x 50' paved area on the eastern side of Bagley Avenue.
1. Land Court Decision and Judgment
This courts January 5, 2009 Judgment declared that the owners of Lot 151A own of record the fee of the westerly half of Bagley Avenue; that the owners of Lot 1 own of record the fee of the easterly half of Bagley Avenue; that each fee simple owner of any portion of Bagley Avenue has, as to the portion of the fee of Bagley Avenue which they do not own, a perpetual non-exclusive easement and right of way to pass and repass on foot and by vehicle; and that, as to the 20' x 50' turnaround or parking area, it was owned in fee by the owners of Lot 1, and the owners of Lot 151A have no right of passage or any use of that area[.] [Note 2]
Relevant here, regarding the 20' x 50' parking area on the eastern side of Bagley Avenue, the Land Court treated it as part of the way, and ruled that the right of passage over Bagley Avenue appurtenant to Lot 151A did not extend into the 20' x 50' area. Tr. 77:13-24. The court, however, left it open to the parties to stipulate to the use of that area, noting Im going to look to the parties to develop as much as they can by agreement the form of judgment that I will enter in this case, and I will reserve the opportunity to hear them on this. Tr. 77:18-21.
2. Appeals Court Opinion
When the case was considered by the Appeals Court, it took a markedly different view than the trial court decision regarding the application of the Derelict Fee Statute. [Note 3] The Appeals Court ruled that the 1977 conveyance of Lot 1 did not include any interest in Bagley Avenue; instead, the owners of Lot 1 received in fee only land up to the narrow strip of grass that separated the boundary of Lot 1 from the bituminous concrete. 77 Mass. App. Ct. 688 , 696-99. [Note 4] As a result, the Appeals Court concluded that the 1986 conveyance of Lot 151A carried with it all the fee in Bagley Avenue, up to the edge of the strip separating the bituminous concrete and Lot 1, as a result of the operation of the so-called Derelict Fee Statute, G.L. c. 183, § 58. Id. at 698. Then, noting that we are unaware of a case which has applied ... the equitable doctrine of reformation to the effects of the operation of G.L. c. 183, § 58... the Appeals Court went on to direct that the Land Court, on remand, reform the 1986 conveyance to exclude the fee in Bagley Avenue, leaving it with the owners of Lot 151C. 77 Mass. App. Ct. at 699-702. [Note 5] The Appeals Court held that, following reformation of the 1986 deed, the fee in the way is to be held by the owners of Lot 151C, as successors to the grantors in the 1986 conveyance, and that the owners of Lot 1 and of Lot 151A both will enjoy easement rights as to Bagley Avenue. Id. at 701-702. [Note 6]
The Appeals Court remanded the case to the Land Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, including reformation of the 1986 deed to retain ownership of the fee in Bagley Avenue in the grantor. 77 Mass. App. Ct. at 702. In a footnote following that sentence, the Appeals Court states:
We note that the 2000 easement to Christine includes the entirety of Bagley Avenue, including the turn-around or parking area. To the extent that passage over that parking area facilitates ingress and egress to Lot 151A, the easement expressly allows such use. However, neither Franks nor Christines easement contains any express right to park on Bagley Avenue, and to the extent parking rights are claimed as within the scope of the parties respective easements, the record before us is insufficient to address the point. Any continuing issues as to the extent of the parties easement rights may be considered further on remand.
77 Mass. App. Ct. at 702 n. 19.
3. Easement Implied by Prior Use
Defendants filed a motion for entry of judgment after rescript on March 2, 2011. On March 22, 2011, the Land Court held a hearing on action to be taken following rescript, and determined entry of judgment would be premature in light of the instructions of the Appeals Court. Instead, the Defendants were directed to file a legal memorandum in support of their proposed judgment, the Plaintiffs were to respond, with the court then either to issue a judgment, or schedule a further hearing. After the briefs were filed, the court (Piper, J.) issued an Order Setting Case for Further Evidentiary Hearing, reasoning that whether there exists an implied right to park on the road turns on genuine issues of fact that must be resolved[.] See Harrington v. Lamarque, 42 Mass. App. Ct. 371 , 372 (1997). [Note 7]
The evidentiary hearing regarding parking rights in the turnaround area [Note 8] was held on September 10, 2012. A court reporter was sworn to transcribe testimony and proceedings, and to produce a transcript, which was filed with the court on September 26, 2012. Posttrial briefs and requested findings of fact and rulings of law were filed by plaintiffs on October 23, 2012, and by defendants on October 26, 2012. On December 10, 2012, the parties returned to court with the court reporter present for closing arguments. Following argument, the parties were given the chance to file supplemental briefs regarding the 2000 deed of easement from Arlene Murphy to Christine Murphy. The court has received supplemental briefs from all parties, as well as the transcript of the final day of trial, thereafter took the matter under advisement, and now decides the case.
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The issue in dispute is whether Christine McGovern and Anthony S. Leonti hold an implied easement to park on Bagley Avenue, and, in particular, in the 20' x 50' area across from Lot 151A on Bagley Avenue. Defendants argue that the court should declare that use of the 20' x 50' area to benefit Lot 151A at the time of the 1986 conveyance of Lot 151A from Hollis and Arlene Murphy (the Murphys) to Christine McGovern included by implication an easement to continue parking then underway in that area. Defendants contend that prior existing use of the parking area by previous tenants of 151A, combined with the reasonable necessity of having a nearby area to park their cars, dictate a finding that an implied easement was created at the time of the conveyance.
According to the Plaintiffs, Defendants have only an easement right to pass over the turnaround area, not an implied easement to park. Plaintiffs contend that even if Defendants were able to claim an implied easement, there was no clear intent on the part of the Murphys to grant a right to park in the 20' x 50' area.
On all of the testimony, exhibits, stipulations, and other evidence introduced at trial or otherwise properly before me, and the reasonable inferences I draw therefrom, and taking into account the pleadings, memoranda, and argument of the parties, I find and rule as follows:
1. Bagley Avenue is a private road in Bedford, Massachusetts that runs north from Hartwell Road to Lot 151C Bagley Avenue.
2. Christine McGovern and Anthony Leonti currently own and reside in a house on Lot 151A, a parcel of land located to the west of Bagley Avenue. Francis and Phyllis McGovern currently own and reside in a house on Lot 1, a parcel of land located to the east of Bagley Avenue. Lot 151C is located to the north of Bagley Avenue, at its terminus. Bagley Avenue is the sole and exclusive access road providing ingress and egress to Lot 151A; Lot 151A also fronts on Hartwell Road, but there is not now, and never has been, any drive or access way into Lot 151A directly off of the public Hartwell Road. Lot 1 currently has additional access by way of Hartwell Road, on which it fronts and where a driveway leads into the easterly side of the home on Lot 1. There is an additional driveway into Lot 1 from Bagley Avenue just a bit south of the disputed 20' by 50' cutout area. This driveway is paved, fairly wide, leads from Bagley all the way to the westerly side of the house there, and accommodates amply the parking of more than a few vehicles.
3. All of the above properties, including the private way, originally were part of a 45.5 acre parcel owned by Hollis and Arlene Murphy, the parents of Francis, John Joseph, and Christine McGovern, by deed dated August 5, 1974, and recorded with the Middlesex (South District) Registry of Deeds (the Registry) in Book 12699, Page 645. Prior to the 1974 deed, the land had been in the McGovern family since the mid-1940s.
4. Hollis and Arlene Murphy moved into the home located on Lot 151C in 1973. At the time, Bagley Avenue was just a dirt road. In connection with their move to Lot 151C, the Murphys caused Bagley Avenue to be paved, and first created the subject 20' x 50' area.
5. The parking area, as originally constructed, used railroad ties to form its retaining wall (the grade of the parking area being higher than the land to its east, on the sides away from Bagley Avenue). The obvious intention of those who created the 20' by 50' area is that it serve as an area for parking several cars side by side in an alignment roughly perpendicular to Bagley Avenue; this is obvious from much of the evidence, including but not limited to testimony regarding how the cutout came to be, and from the shape, orientation, and physical features of this area as it was put in and as it now and previously has existed on the ground. Railroad ties also were installed along the boundary, more or less, between Lot 151A and Bagley Avenue, for the entire length of Lot 151A, making transit by passenger vehicle from Bagley Avenue onto Lot 151A not possible.
6. From about 1972 or 1973 to 1978, Francis and Phyllis McGovern lived in the house on Lot 151A as tenants. Once the 20' by 50' area was constructed, Francis and Phyllis McGovern used that area to park as appurtenant to Lot 151A. This bumpout served from its inception as an area for vehicular parking.
7. By deed dated November 3, 1977 and recorded with the Registry in Book 13332, Page 565, the Murphys conveyed Lot 1 to Francis and Phyllis McGovern; Lot 1 contains 1.182 acres of land to the east of Bagley Avenue. Francis and Phyllis McGovern subsequently left the residence on Lot 151A and moved into one constructed on Lot 1.
8. The 1977 deed to Francis and Phyllis McGovern included an easement and right of way to the Grantees their heirs and assigns to pass and repass, along with others entitled thereto, along and over a strip of land shown on said plan as Bit. Conc. Driveway for the purpose of ingress and egress to or from the rear or any portion of said lot.
9. The 1977 deed references a plan (1977 Plan) titled Plan of Land in Bedford, Mass., for McGovern, Scale 1' = 40", Dated August 1, 1977, Joseph W. Moore Co., Land Surveyors, Civil Engineers, 16 Railroad Ave., Bedford, Mass. The 1977 Plan is recorded with the Registry as Plan Number 1268 of the year 1977. The survey work involved in creating this plan was done by Roger M. Corbin.
10. From approximately 1978 to 1985, Kim and Allen Sutkus lived in the house on Lot 151A as tenants. During their tenancy at Lot 151A, the Sutkuses regularly used the 20' by 50' parking area for vehicle parking.
11. After the Sutkus family moved out of Lot 151A, Christine McGovern became a tenant there.
12. While Christine was a tenant at Lot 151A, her parents offered to transfer that property to her. To facilitate the transfer, Arlene and Hollis hired Roger M. Corbin, the surveyor who had prepared the 1977 Plan, to prepare a new plan to separate ownership of the residence parcel known as Lot 151A from the larger parcel owned by Hollis and Arlene remaining after the conveyance out of Lot 1 in 1977.
13. The resulting plan (1985 Plan or Plan) is that dated November 12, 1985, titled Plan of Land in Bedford, Mass. (Middlesex County), Scale 1" = 40', prepared by BSC - Bedford, Roger M. Corbin, Registered Land Surveyor, and recorded January 14, 1986 with the Middlesex County (Southern District) Registry of Deeds (Registry) as Plan No. 44 of 1986 at Book 16708, Page End.
14. By deed dated January 31, 1986 and recorded with the Registry in Book 16770, Page 167, Hollis and Arlene Murphy conveyed Lot 151A to Christine McGovern. To convey this land to Christine, the Murphys had to obtain a variance for Lot 151A from the Town of Bedford because the lot did not have sufficient frontage or lot size.
15. After taking title to Lot 151A in 1986, Christine shared with her parents the costs of improving the 20' x 50' parking area. Christine contributed $1,592.50 to repaving the area and building a cinder block retaining wall to replace the then deteriorating railroad tie wall. Upon moving into the house on Lot 151A, Christine McGovern began using regularly the 20' by 50' parking area for vehicle parking.
16. There is no driveway located on Lot 151A. Even since the railroad ties that once lined Lot 151A along Bagley Avenue have deteriorated, given the grade of the property, constructing a driveway from Bagley Avenue onto Lot 151A has long been considered impractical by the owners of Lot 151A, and my view of the locus and of the evidence at trial convinces me they are right to have this opinion.
17. Christine McGovern enjoyed uninterrupted, nearly daily, use of the 20' x 50' area for vehicle parking from 1986 up until her mother Arlenes death in 2006, after which her brothers contested her right to park in the area.
18. Defendant Anthony Leonti has been with Christine McGovern a resident at 151A Bagley Avenue since 1994. From 1994 until 2006, Mr. Leonti regularly used the 20' by 50' parking area for vehicle parking.
19. On December 2, 2000, Christine McGovern acquired a deed of easement from Arlene Murphy, recorded with the Registry in Book 32111, Page 418. This easement granted the right to pass and repass over Bagley Avenue, but was silent with regard to parking rights on the private way. This easement was identical to the easement granted to Francis and Phyllis McGovern.
20. Roger Corbin, the engineer responsible for the 1977 Plan that depicts the parking area, testified that his understanding, based on the dialog around the time of his work preparing the plans described above, the purpose of the 20' x 50' foot area was to allow the occupants of Lot 151A to park in a way that did not interfere with vehicle access to the back lot (Lot 151C). I credit Mr. Corbins testimony in this regard.
An easement by implication, sometimes called easement implied from (or based on) prior use, is an implied grant derived from an established pattern of prior use. Bedford v. Cerasuolo, 62 Mass. App. Ct. 73 , 78 (2004). A court will find an easement by implication when there has been a severance of land once having common ownership, and until the severance, the common owner had made an apparent and continuous use of one as if there had been a servitude imposed upon it for the benefit of the other, and that such servitude was reasonably necessary for the benefit of the dominant estate. Mt. Holyoke Realty Corp. v. Holyoke Realty Corp., 284 Mass. 100 , 104-05 (1933); Boudreau v. Coleman, 29 Mass. App. Ct. 621 , 630 (1990). To find an easement implied by prior use, there must be (1) common ownership, (2) severance of common ownership by conveyance, and (3) an actual use at the time of severance, which use must have been reasonably ascertainable and reasonably necessary for the enjoyment of the dominant estate. Flax v. Smith, 20 Mass. App. Ct. 149 , 152 (1985).
In determining whether an implied easement to park was created in the 1986 conveyance to Christine McGovern, I must determine the parties presumed intent at the severance of title. See Harrington v. Lamarque, 42 Mass. App. Ct. 371 , 375 (1997). Implied easements, whether by grant or by reservation, do not arise out of necessity alone. Their origin must be found in a presumed intention of the parties, to be gathered from the language of the instruments when read in the light of the circumstances attending their execution, the physical condition of the premises, and the knowledge which the parties had or with which the are chargeable. Id. quoting Dale v. Bedal, 305 Mass. 102 , 103 (1940). The key to the inquiry is that such easement is reasonably necessary, even if it is not an absolute physical necessity. Mt. Holyoke Realty Corp., 284 Mass. at 100. Where ... there is no actual physical necessity for an easement, it is a requisite element in the creation of an easement by implication ... that there then be an open and continuous use of one parcel for the benefit of another. Dale, 305 Mass. at 108. As the parties asserting the implied easement, Defendants bear the burden of proving its existence. Mt. Holyoke Realty Corp., 284 Mass. at 105; Boudreau v. Coleman, 29 Mass. App. Ct. 621 , 629 (1990); Hamouda v. Harris, 66 Mass. App. Ct. 22 , 24 at n.1 (2006).
All the elements for an easement implied by prior use are satisfied in this case. The judgment that I direct enter will declare that Lot 151A is benefited by an appurtenant easement for vehicular parking in the 20' x 50' parking area. [Note 9]
Prior to the 1986 conveyance, both Lot 151C and Lot 151A were held in common by Hollis and Arlene Murphy; they also retained, as the Appeals Court has decided, fee title to both Bagley Avenue and the parking area projecting off a portion of Bagley Avenues eastern side. Prior to the severance of common ownership, tenants of Lot 151A had used the 20' x 50' area for parking in a continuous and frequent manner. At the time of the 1986 deed, use of the 20' x 50' area for parking by the occupants of Lot 151A was ongoing and open, and had been continuous for more than a decade prior.
The parking area is reasonably necessary for the enjoyment of Lot 151A. Lot 151A currently lacks a driveway, and the parcels shape and topography poses difficulties for constructing one. The vicinity offers few alternative areas where the Defendants may park their cars. Any effort to install a parking area within the limits of Lot 151A would, if possible at all, meet with considerable engineering challenges and be expensive. Use of the long-existing parking area, located directly across Bagley Avenue from the house, clearly contributes to enjoyment of the Defendants parcel. The parking areas importance to Lot 151A and its owners goes beyond mere convenience and rises to the level of the reasonable necessity required to find an implied easement.
This alone is sufficient to infer an easement based on the open and ongoing use at the time of severance, and the presumed intent of the parties. In addition, the record contains ample evidence that a continued parking right in the now disputed area for the benefit of those living in Lot 151A was the actual intent of the parties. This evidence includes the fact that Arlene and Hollis Murphy, and Christine McGovern, agreed to share the costs of improving the areathe inference I draw being that there was an intent that Christine, as the new owner of Lot 151A, continue her use of the parking area. [Note 10] It also includes the earlier testimony of Roger Corbin, who observed that it was always the occupants of Lot 151A who benefited from the parking in the 20' x 50' area, and who were intended to do so. Finally, the placement of railroad ties along the border of Lot 151A with Bagley Avenue is further evidence of an actual intent not to insist on parking within the bounds of Lot 151A; the clear intention was that the occupants of Lot 151A were to continue parking in the convenient area right across Bagley Avenue.
Judgment will enter in this case that reforms the 1986 deed to exclude the fee in Bagley Avenue, in accordance with the direction of the Appeals Court. The Judgment also will declare the rights of the parties to pass and repass over Bagley Avenue, and the rights of the owners of Lot 151A to an appurtenant easement for vehicular parking in the 20' x 50' parking area. [Note 11]
[Note 1] Christine McGovern and Anthony S. Leonti, defendants in the Land Court Miscellaneous Case and plaintiffs in the Superior Court Civil Action, are referred to hereinafter as Defendants for clarity. Likewise, Francis McGovern and Phyllis McGovern, individually, and Francis McGovern and John McGovern, as trustees, are all referred to as Plaintiffs.
[Note 2] The Land Courts view of the case was that it called for an application of the Derelict Fee Statute, G.L. c. 183, § 58. Tr. 66:1-3. This court ruled that the land conveyed as Lot 1 in 1977 abutted Bagley Avenue for purposes of the Derelict Fee Statute notwithstanding that there appears to be a short distance between the described and depicted solid boundary line which is the western line of Lot 1 on the plan... and the paved edge of the driveway depicted...on that same plan. Tr. 67:17-68:3. I find and rule on all the evidence that the intention here was to use as the western borders of Lot 1 a linear way or drive. Tr. 68:9-11. The short distance that is shown in the 1977 plan between the solid lines of Lot 1 on its westerly side and the dashed lines are, I find and rule, within the linear monument of Bagley Avenue[,] which...was in 1977 intended to form the western boundary of the Lot 1 parcel. Tr. 69:3-9. Moreover No additional easement was given to pass over the short distance shown on the 1977 plan as lying between the eastern dash line of the bituminous concrete driveway and the westerly solid line of Lot 1. No such easement was given because that short distance passed into the fee ownership of the grantees of Lot 1. Its [axiomatic] that you need no easement in your own land. Had this not been the case, then the easement afforded the owners of Lot 1 to use the bituminous concrete driveway would have been ineffectual because it would not have permitted passage across the short intervening strip[.] Tr. 71:15-72:4.
[Note 3] The Appeals Court decision on this point appears to have broken new ground. See Edward C. Mendler, Massachusetts Conveyancers Handbook with Forms, Thomson Reuters, 4th edition, 2013 pocket part, section 15:4: (A decision by Justice Piper in the Land Court which appeared (probably to most conveyancers) to meet all customary tests of the meaning and purpose of Chapter 183, s. 58, and analysis of the deeds involved, was nevertheless overruled by the Appeals Court, which upon detailed analysis found contrary intent of the parties and somewhat limiting strictures in the statute. ...)
[Note 4] In drawing this conclusion, the Appeals Court rejected as erroneous the trial court finding and ruling, reached based on the trial evidence, that the conveyance of Lot 1 in 1977 was intended to be bounded by the way later denominated Bagley Avenue, and that Lot 1 not only was intended to be, but actually was, directly abutting that way when the deed was granted in 1977. The trial court conclusion rested on factual findings that the western limit of Lot 1 was intended to be coincident with the eastern limit of the way, and that as a result, the conveyance was one within the reach of section 58, which applies not based on the language of the deed involved, but on the reality on the ground. See Rowley v. Massachusetts Elec. Co., 438 Mass. 798 , 802 (2003)(considering whether section 58 applies to property which in fact abuts a way or other similar linear monument even if the language in the deed does not specifically describe it in those terms.... and concluding, id., at 805, that section 58 applies to real estate ... that in fact abuts a public or private [way] ... or other similar linear monument, regardless of how it is described in the instrument of conveyance.)
In arriving at its result, the Appeals Court discounted a variety of factors used by the trial court in weighing the trial evidence to find that Lot 1 actually did abut the way when the 1977 conveyance took place. The trial court found that the outline of the western edge of Lot 1 was fashioned on the plan to produce simple, straight lines, near to, and closely lining up with, the depicted pavements edge, and demonstrated that Lot 1 was treated in that conveyance as reaching directly up to the eastern limit of the way. The trial court did not consider it necessary, for section 58 to apply, that the 1977 plan depict the western edge of Lot 1 as reaching exactly to the irregular edge of the asphalt which existed on the ground. The trial court considered it sufficient that the western edge of Lot 1 tracked closely, with all its jogs and cutouts, the nearby irregular edge of the pavement actually on the ground. The trial court had observed that in Massachusetts it is very common for ways to have unfinished shoulders and strips of grass alongside the edge of the paved road surface, and that those shoulders and strips intervene between the pavement and the private parcel. The trial decision reasoned that if the presence of such an intervening narrow strip of grass or dirt makes the parcel no longer abut the way for purposes of the Derelict Fee Statute, then a great many such parcels will no longer receive its benefit, and the ownership of the small strips that make up such ways and linear monuments would once again be derelict. Rowley, 438 Mass., at 804. The trial court decision was concerned that if it reached a contrary conclusion, and the small, narrow intervening strip of grass prevented application of the statute, that would tend to apply section 58's curative provisions only to cases where the deed involved expressly described the parcel as bounding on the way, and not, as Rowley held, to the many instances where the lot does in fact abut the way, even though the deed does not say as much.
The Appeals Courts holding on the Derelict Fee Statute question, which this court is unquestionably obliged to follow, altered some material aspects of the trial courts final decision and the judgment which entered based on that decision. Nevertheless, as discussed infra, the balance of the Appeals Courts decision, and in particular its ruling that reformation was required in this case to vindicate the intention that the fee in Bagley Avenue be retained by the grantors in the later conveyance of Lot 151A, leads the trial court on remand to consider the rights the parties do and do not hold in the way, especially those having to do with the contentious issue of parking.
[Note 5] The Appeals Court was of course aware of section 58's requirement that, for the statutes ordinary outcome (that fee in a way passes with the deed of the abutting land) to be overridden, and for the fee of the way to be kept out of a conveyance, the instrument must evidence a different intent by an express exception or reservation ... . The Appeals Court also was aware of the conveyancing policies which underlie that statutory provision. 77 Mass. App. Ct. at 693-694. The court nevertheless concluded that the equitable policy of correcting conveyancing errors to achieve parties true intention gave rise to a right of reformation which inserted into the deed, after the fact, the missing exception of the fee demanded by the statute.
[Note 6] The Appeals Court did not order a reformation of the 1997 deed from Hollis and Arlene Murphy, individually, to Hollis and Arlene Murphy as Trustees of the Bagley Realty Trust. This deed, recorded with the Registry at Book 27444, Page 588, conveyed Lot 151C, the land to the rear of Bagley Avenue and Lots 1 and 151A, but did not expressly reserve or convey the fee to Bagley Avenue. It is not clear whether the 1997 grantors, again in error, failed to address the fee of Bagley Avenue in their deed, as the Appeals Court concluded happened when the grantors of Lot 151A neglected to except the Bagley Avenue fee in the earlier conveyance. I do not consider it possible, given the decision of the Appeals Court, to conclude that the failure to include the fee to the way in the 1997 deed evinces an understanding by the grantors at that time that they no longer had title to the way. Such a conclusion would be inconsistent with the Appeals Courts central holding that there must be reformation of the 1986 deed to exclude from that conveyance the fee in Bagley Avenue which otherwise would have passed under the deed. There is some reference in the Appeals Courts opinion to Bagley Avenue being owned by the Trust. 77 Mass. App. Ct. at 702. To effectuate best the result directed by the Appeals Court, I find and rule that the 1997 deed ought to be read as conveying all the property that Hollis and Arlene held fee title to, including both Lot 151C and Bagley Avenue. See generally G.L. c. 183, § 15 (In a conveyance of real estate all rights, easements, privileges and appurtenances belonging to the granted estate shall be included in the conveyance, unless the contrary shall be stated in the deed, and it shall be unnecessary to enumerate or mention them either generally or secifically.).
[Note 7] The courts March 26, 2012 Order Setting Case for Further Evidentiary Hearing is incorporated by reference into this Decision. That Order also rejected Plaintiffs arguments that the Defendants are prevented from seeking easement rights in the parking area on some theory of claim splitting or res judicata. The court reiterated its rejection of those arguments in an August 30, 2012 docket entry denying the Plaintiffs Objection and Motion for Reconsideration. For these reasons, this Decision does not address in this Decision these arguments, leaving the rulings on them as laid out in those two prior orders, incorporating them by reference in this decision, and seeing in the subsequent proceedings in this case no reason to depart from them. It suffices to observe that, to the extent the Plaintiffs say that the current claim by the defendants (that their Lot 151A benefits from an easement implied by prior use) was lost to the Defendants because they did not plead it earlier, that argument cannot prevail because the judgment earlier entered in this court is not a final one, having been vacated by the Appeals Court; even more to the point, the Appeals Court in its opinion (note 19) plainly sent the case back to this court with instructions that it take up and determine the Defendants parking rights, without expressing any limitation on that exercise.
[Note 8] Without any objection, the court treated as available to it in the disposition of this case after rescript all of the evidence adduced at the initial trial, augmented by additional evidence received in the evidentiary hearing conducted after the cases return from the Appeals Court.
[Note 9] I have not found, nor could I, that the rights appurtenant to Lot 151A to use the cutout area for parking arose or exist as a result of an easement by necessity. The elements for such a finding plainly do not exist in this case. The easement I find and rule the Defendants have established, an easement by implication based on prior use, requires as one of its elements, as I have said, only a finding of reasonable necessity of the use for the enjoyment of Lot 151A, a less demanding standard easily met here.
[Note 10] To the extent the Plaintiffs contend they have made some contribution of funds and labor towards the upkeep and maintenance of the parking area, I find this evidence slight and unconvincing, and in any event conclude that Plaintiffs expenditures, if any, were minor by comparison with those provided by the Defendants.
[Note 11] To the extent that any party has pressed for a right to park on any portion of Bagley Avenue other than within the 20' by 50' parking cutout, I conclude, on all the evidence, that there is no express legal right to do so, and that, given the dimensions, construction, and layout of Bagley Avenue as currently paved, it would be an undue burden on, and an interference with, the passage rights of all entitled to allow any parking within the limits of Bagley outside of the cutout, so that the judgment will forbid any such use. I also conclude that the easement right to park vehicles in the cutout is appurtenant to Lot 151A, and predominates over any passage rights of the owners of the adjoining lands, Lot 1 and Lot 151C, so that those passage rights may be exercised by them within the cutout only as reasonably necessary to pass and repass, and not to park, stop, or stand any vehicle, and even so, only to the extent the parking area is not being used for parking by the owners of Lot 151A and their invitees, and only in a manner which does not interfere in any material way with that predominant use.