TOWN OF RUTLAND
Meeting open at 7:10 PM
Raymond Leonard, William Matteson, Jerry Stearns and Charles Vajda
The Commissioners reviewed the minutes of 1-16-14. Mr. Leonard made a motion to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Vajda made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Attorney William Meub, representing the Keirsteads, met with commissioners regarding the Keirsteads proposed plat recording.
Mr. Matteson explained that the matter is before the Commission because the Town Administrator believes the proposed plat is a subdivision. He said both Mr. Joseph Zingale Jr., and Mr. Howard Burgess had met with Mr. Meub and reviewed the proposed recording.
Mr. Matteson said the Town attorney believes the proposed recording is a subdivision and not a lot line revision as attorney Meub has described the proposed recording.
Mr. Meub told the Commissioners that after the passing of Mr. & Mrs. Keirstead it was time for the family to try to deal with clearing title to property and solving issues that exist. Mr. Meub said the intent is for everybody to have a piece of property they can sell.
He told the Commissioners that no a right-of-way agreement existed between Lee Keirstead and his parents and that there still is no agreement between the Keirstead property and the parcel now owned by Ms. Betsy Keirstead Johnson.
He said because it was a family piece of property they (the Keirsteads) did not have any problem using the road. However, he said now that they want to sell it to someone else, a right of way agreement is required. He said it must state exactly where the right of way is located and how the costs will be shared.
He said, if you do not have such agreements, then you will be unable to get a mortgage.He said not having clean boundaries also raises questions. Additionally, he said there were also easements which were not clear. He said his client has decided to clean it all up. He said the Mary Keirstead Trust wound up with title to the Keirstead property.
Mr. Meub told Commissioners that family members and a surveyor got together recently and agreed upon the boundary line locations and did a boundary line agreement. He said family members also developed a road maintenance agreement and will get rid of all the other rights that exist. Mr. Meub said he checked with Mr. Bill Burke with the State of Vermont and that Mr. Burke said the boundary line adjustment was not a subdivision.
Mr. Matteson questioned why Mr. Meub sought an answer from Mr. Burke rather than Mr. David Swift's office. Mr. Meub acknowledged that Mr. Burke does Act 250. Mr. Meub said he sent his map up to the State and had telephone calls with them. He said he asked if anyone saw any issues in what he was proposing to do. He said he told State officials that this property always went with mom & dad's house.
He said according to the tax map the land is part of the Keirstead property and not part of the Johnson property. However, he said in terms in the way the lawn has been mowed and the way the family looked at it since 1966, this has always been considered the property that went with the grandparents house.
He told commissioners that there used to be a camp on lot # 5, which had been purchased by the grandparents. He said the grandparents then did a small conveyance, keeping their name on it with their son because they were interested in avoiding probate.
He said they were concerned with putting joint tenancy on the property and that it got conveyed to the grandparents in fee. He said eventually Lee got rid of his interest and it all came back into one ownership again.
Mr. Meub submitted a hand drawn map showing the parcels he has described. Mr. Meub cited the lot acquisition history of the previous landowner, who's last name was ”Farmer”.
Mr. Matteson said just because family members have agreed as to where the boundary lines start and end, he said it is still a subdivision.
Mr. Meub said their agreement does not make it a legal subdivision but that it does give them title. He said if someone owns a piece of property by legal title and he said adverse possession is legal title.
Mr. Meub said that it has been more than 15 years since 1966. Mr. Meub said a court does not have to act to find adverse possession. He said a court orders adverse possession if there is a dispute. He said an individual does not necessarily have to go to court in order to record an adverse possession.
He said an individual can record an adverse possession claim in the land records or the neighbors do quit claim deeds, because they have a dispute. Mr. Meub said he does boundary line agreements all the time where people say “this is where by boundary line is.”
He said an individual owns a piece of land after they have been possessing the land open and notoriously against the other people and everyone says that’s where your boundary line is.
Mr. Meub said he did not do the boundary line adjustment to try to get buy anything or do anything. He said they are not trying, in anyway, to get a parcel. He said it is all going to be part of a single lot that is going to go with the house.
He told the commissioners that he does not know what they are trying to accomplish. He said he did it the way he did it because it is how they do it all the time in terms of deciding boundary line.
Mr. Matteson told Mr. Meub that in the past 25 years he has not seen anything like what Mr. Meub has presented. Mr. Matteson said the Commission has done lot line adjustments, but never has done so in the manner described by Mr. Meub.
Mr. Meub asked how his lot line adjustment is different than those previously considered by the Commission. Mr. Zingale said the difference is the fact the Town never had individuals making an adverse possession claim. He said according to the State of Vermont a lot line adjustment can not involved more than 1/10 of an acre to qualify as a lot line adjustment.
Mr. Meub said by doing what he has proposed he could sell the lot tomorrow. He said if the Town considers what he is doing a subdivision then he will have to go to the State and deal with it as a subdivision.
Mr. Meub said based on the facts he gave to the State, no one has said he has to do anything. He said if the planning commission does not accept what he has done and requires the Keirsteads to get a zoning permit and calls it a subdivision, that it would change the rules, and make the Keirsteads have to go to the State because the Town said it is a subdivision.
He said he would have to get deferral of permit language to put on the parcel and that the parcel would then get identified as a separate parcel from the contiguous parcel. Mr. Meub said that since 1981 the property can legally be consider the property of Betsy's grandparents.
Mr. Meub said the parcel in question is numbered # 7 on the map he prepared. He said parcel # 7 is 6.38 in size according to the deed. Mr. Stearns cited the fact that the Town Property map has the parcel at 5.87 acres in size. Mr. Meub said parcel # 7 is 6.38 in size according to his map.
Mr. Meub showed Mr. Matteson a map and said that he tried to record what he did because of the deeds that went between Johnson and the Keirstead Trust, what the Town has been having as 47.5 acres.
Mr. Meub said the Town includes parcel # 7 within the 47.5 acre parcel. However, he said when he did the conveyance to make sure the Trust had no interest in this entire parcel (pointing at the map) and the people here (pointing at the map) had an interest in anything else, he said, according to the Town we took 1.4 acres from the 47.5 acres has been owned by Keirstead.
He said Lee & Mary Keirstead ended up with 47.5 acres after making several purchases of different parcels. He said they made their last purchase in 1966. He said the grandparents purchased parcels #4 & #5 in 1966.
He said they have always treated the parcel shown in green (pointing at the map) the 6.3 acres as their property. He said it is his position that parcel # 7, which was part of the 47.5 acres was always a part of land the grandparents owned and that they owned it by adverse possession.
When questioned by Mr. Matteson Mr. Meub said there was never a house or anything on parcel # 7.
Referring to the map in front of Mr. Meub, Mr.Matteson asked Mr. Meub questions regarding parcel ownership. There was more discussion regarding the history of the various parcels while citing the map in front of Mr. Matteson and Mr. Meub.
Mr. Meub said that when Lee Keirstead conveyed the deed to Betsy he thought he was conveying what they understood to be the parcel and was not conveying what the Town has in the Town records. He said the Keirsteads did not keep records as well as the Town.
Mr. Meub said that according to mapping work done by Mr. Burgess the little part of parcel #7 is part of the big piece. Mr. Matteson asked Mr. Meub what his surveyor had to say about the parcel after reading the deed. Mr. Mr. Matteson said the commission has to go by what is in the deed. Mr. Meub said he would argue that the commission does not have to do so and should look at adverse possession.
Mr. Meub said he is not going to argue with the work done by Mr. Burgess or the Town map. He said he agrees that if you go back to the 1920 and 1930 deeds they do not include the (1.4 acre) area marked on the map.
Mr. Meub and the commission discussed the matter further and Mr. Zingale cited several maps, which indicate the proposed boundary line adjustment is a town subdivision. Mr. Matteson said he now thinks the matter is a lot line adjustment as presented by Mr. Meub.
The Commission will check wit the Town attorney and will meet again with Mr. Meub.
Mr. Zingale presented copies of the Town Plan which he has begun to update. Commissioners will review the updates and will discuss at the next meeting.
Mr. Zingale said the Commission should consider designating some of the views in Town as “scenic” or consider changing the land use designation for several large parcels now designated as commercial/residential.
Mr. Stearns moved to close the meeting at 8:02 P.M. Mr. Leonard made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.