Stonington – A Pawcatuck man has filed a lawsuit alleging that he owns half of his new neighbour’s $ 1.3 million waterfront property for years of using and operating part of the 10 acre wooded property and the previous owners never stopped him.
Summit Street Development LLC, of which Pierce Hall is chief executive officer, filed a lawsuit last December to obtain possession of 5 acres of land at 335 River Road using the prejudicial ownership concept. The case is pending in the New London Superior Court.
Under state law, adverse ownership is a way of acquiring ownership of a property through open, visible, hostile, and exclusive possession without interruption for a period of 15 years. These are usually not large plots like this, but rather smaller strips of land, for example when someone erects a fence without knowing the exact location of a property line.
Summit Street filed the lawsuit when the land and house on it belonged to different members of the Tyson family. But on March 30, the property was sold by Darien to Luke and Shannon Doherty and Leontine and Albert Pietruska for $ 1.3 million. The Tysons have since been removed as defendants.
Dohertys and Pietruskas attorney Gary Greene of Farmington said Thursday that his clients knew about the lawsuit when they bought the property. He said he and she did not agree that Hall had a viable claim to the property that could be upheld in court.
The lawsuit states that Hall bought his property at 325 River Road in 1995 and transferred the title in the name of his wife, Debra Schlachter. He divided up the land, built two buildings and has lived there ever since. The land on the lower Pawcatuck River has since been transferred to numerous entities controlled by him and his family and is currently valued by the city at $ 966,100.
The lawsuit states that the 10-acre wooded property next door on 335 River Road, known as the “impenetrable forest”, has not had year-round residents since 1995.
Since 1995, according to the lawsuits, Hall has received a 5 acre portion of land adjoining his property that, if overgrown, would block his views of the water. It said he had cleared bushes and dead or damaged trees from the forest and removed debris that washed up on the coast.
Hall, who owns a landscaping company, estimates the work is worth $ 4,000 a year.
“Mr. Hall has been slowly converting this part into a wildlife sanctuary rich in cultivated flora and fauna, plus a fire pit and 1,500-foot trail,” which he walks and which his son once rode his ATV on in the suit. He has also built deer feeding grounds, installed wildlife cameras and set up camps on the 5 hectare portion of the property. He also says he maintained a 700-foot stone wall along the two lots for $ 10,000. He also parks and stores heavy equipment on a 3 acre portion of the property.
The lawsuit alleges that Hall was a “tremendous steward” of his neighbor’s land and obtained it “at great expense in time and money.”
It also claims that Hall’s use of the land was open, visible, exclusive, and without the consent of the Tyson family at all times, and lasted beyond the 15 years required for adverse possession under state law.
Hall also claims that prior to the March sale, the Tysons or their agents entered his property and their 5 acres to destroy the improvements Hall made to evict him from the country. He said that signs and fences were also put up and he was told that he was not allowed to enter the property.
He also claims that not only did they set foot on his property, but the 5 acres they own, and Hall says he looked after them. He said this resulted in his family calling the police on several occasions. He also stated that he had placed heavy machinery on the 5 acres in question to prevent further destruction of the property.
In the lawsuit, a judge is asked to give Hall either possession of the 5 acres or an easement to use 3 acres of the property as he has done for the past 26 years. It also calls for the defendant to be sentenced to remove fences or obstacles preventing his access to the property and pay him more than $ 15,000 in damages.