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Forever, Whatever
by Ron Davis

The neighbor of a Connecticut shopping center can keep the parking spaces that the center’s owners have generously granted the use of since 1978 but now want returned.

The shopping center, located in North Haven, granted those parking spaces, plus the access right to the spaces, “forever.” At the time of the grant, the neighbor operated an office building.

Three years ago, however, the neighbor decided to convert the building to a vocational-school operation. That change did not sit well with the shopping center owners. They sued the neighboring property owner, claiming that the occupancy change violated the terms of the mutual grant of parking spaces.

Therefore, the center’s owners argued, the neighbor had abandoned or terminated the mutual agreement regarding parking on center property. Finally, the owners argued that the location of the parking easement was never adequately described.

In reply, the neighbor asserted the right to park on the center property by virtue of the recorded mutual grant. And, the neighbor added, there was never any expressed intention to abandon that grant.

Complicating matters was a building that cantilevered over the mutual parking area of the shopping center. A former owner of the property abutting the shopping center had erected that building prior to selling the property. The shopping center owners claimed that the building’s intrusion on their property violate the “metes-and-bounds” description in the agreement and should result in termination of the grant to their neighbor.

A Connecticut court ruled in favor of the shopping center’s neighbor, allowing the neighbor to continue the use of the shopping center parking spaces.

The center’s owners appealed.

A Connecticut appellate court agreed with the lower court, explaining, “The court did not find that the proposed parking area was the entire shopping center parking area, as [the center’s owners] argue, when they referred to a metes-and-bounds description of the parcel contained in the mutual grant. Instead, in response to an argument that the location of the easement was not adequately described, the court noted that such an argument ignored the metes-and-bounds description expressed in the agreement as well as the reference to the survey. These two documents together demonstrate that the location of the proposed parking area within the bounds of the [shopping center] property was described adequately.” (Luciani Realty Partners v. North Haven Academy, LLC, 2010 WL 653328 [Conn.App.])

Decision: March 2010
Published: April 2010



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