Rural Maine Has High Bar For Adverse Possession

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:26 am
Land Use Law Report, Volume 46, Number 1

Casual, recreational use of a neighbor’s property was not sufficient to prove antagonistic use for the purposes of winning title by adverse possession.

Facts: In the 1920s, the owner of a tract of land on the shore of Little Ossippee Lake in Waterboro, Maine conveyed a small lake-front lot (the disputed lot) to Clarence Fluent and a larger lot (the Weeks lot), which surrounded the disputed lot on three sides and had lake front frontage of its own, to Maria Gray Kimball.

In 1925, Fluent conveyed his lot and a right of way from it to the Weeks lot to Alice Webber. Webber used the disputed lot to pasture cattle and harvest ice until 1947. Webber and her family visited the disputed lot once or twice a year from the 1950s until 2004. They walked around, inspected the property and picked berries. Webber died in 1983, and three of her relatives, Forrest Estes and John and Westie Krysa took ownership of the disputed lot.

In 1950, The Weeks and Hutchinson families assumed ownership of the Weeks lot, subject to the right of way across it to the disputed lot. Over the next fifty years, the Weekses and Hutchinsons cleared debris from the disputed lot, camped on the disputed lot, played on the disputed lot, maintained a garden that encroached on the disputed lot, and used the disputed lot as a short cut. The Weeks[..]