by Maggie Neale
How can the actual length of a street in Montpelier that has brought me home for 23 years and been maintained by the city suddenly be in question, with the suggestion by the Montpelier Director of Public Works that the portion of the city street ends before my driveway entrance? What? How can I explain this when I do not understand it myself?
My deed says my small piece of land is bounded by Scribner Street on its western length. I understand that Scribner Street is no longer traveled the whole of my eight rods, but there has been a tree line we called the border for at least 50 years, until it was cut a couple of years ago by the new neighbor. Then last year the long-established waterway was disturbed and rechanneled into several ruts in the hill east of its original home—my property and my easement. Thus, red flags! What is happening on our hill?
Bruce Sargent went into action to discover the boundaries of my property by hiring a surveyor, and we found I did own in real property and in easement the portion where the many ruts have been created by our neighbor, Mark Magiera. In his research, Sargent discovered that our easement was not owned by us as real property, and the easement was not owned as real property by the neighbor as well. He owned it as servient property, with an overriding easement. We owned the easement.
Sargent discovered that Scribner Street had been dedicated and accepted at 397 feet, 132 feet of which borders the whole length of my property. This was back in 1919, when the house and .4 acre was sold to Eda Berganti, who was working on the neighboring farm at 9 Scribner. Her property, now claimed by me, has easement rights along its western border. A few months later, after Eda made her purchase, that 397 foot street length was changed and accepted by Montpelier City Government as 340 feet for no obvious reason, and with no particular record.
This might seem like past history, but when Tom McArdle, Director of Public Works, can’t give us a sound explanation for a notation on a City VTrans map which states that Scribner Street ends before my driveway, my entrance to my home, things get really upsetting. According to my neighbor at 9 Scribner, the paved road in front of my home, my driveway and front yard belong to number 9, and his property virtually landlocks my property. This is not what I have been contentedly paying taxes on for 23 years!
I am so disappointed in the lengthy process of this disturbance, the lack of appreciation for all the research Bruce Sargent has put into discovery, and feeling outside the team of players at City Hall. I would like to think that I could be supported by my city.
On June 13, there will be a site visit by City Council members, then a hearing as part of the regular bimonthly meeting that same evening to determine the length of Scribner Street, a determination to be made entirely by the city council after hearing all evidence—the Department of Public Works, the surveyor, our research, maps and photographs, and all other evidence offered by the public. Meanwhile we are being careful not to trespass on our neighbor’s property, but if he owns Scribner Street at our driveway’s entrance, that is impossible.
My friends, family, and associates have been asking for an explanation. This is the best I can do when I am discouraged and humbled. My trust is shaken.
Maggie Neale is a 23-year resident of 8 Scribner Street, an artist, and a board member of Artisans Hand.