BRUCE TAYLOR and SUSAN A. TAYLOR, Plaintiffs,
THOMAS HIATT, THOMAS R. HIATT and JEWEL HOLLARS, Defendants.
in the Court of Appeals 13 February 2019.
by Plaintiff from order entered 8 March 2018 by Judge James
K. Roberson in Alamance County No. 17-CVS-1429 Superior
Oertel, Koonts & Oertel, PLLC, by Geoffrey K. Oertel, for
Pittman & Steele, PLLC, by Timothy W. Gray, for the
brought this action seeking a declaration and other relief
concerning an easement extending across Plaintiffs'
property to Defendants' property. Plaintiffs appeal the
trial court's order granting summary judgment to
Defendants. After review of the materials before the trial
court, we reverse and remand.
and Defendants own adjacent tracts of land in rural Alamance
County. Defendants access a nearby State road via easements
(private roads) which span across Plaintiffs' land.
Plaintiffs built two gates and fencing somewhere along these
private roads to fence in their horses. These gates do not
prevent Defendants from being able to access the public road,
as Plaintiffs have provided Defendants with the access code
for the gates. However, Defendants contend that, based on
language in the chain of title concerning the easements,
Plaintiffs are not allowed to construct the gates on the
easement. Plaintiffs commenced this action, seeking a
declaration of their right to construct and maintain the
gates in question. Defendant counterclaimed, seeking a
declaration that Plaintiffs have no right to erect and
maintain the gates and an order directing Plaintiffs to
remove the gates.
Title History and Creation of the Easements
chain of title at issue is described herein. The map below is
included for clarity. The map depicts six tracts of land,
referenced in this opinion as Tracts 1-6. Plaintiffs own
Tracts 1 and 3. Defendants own Tract 4. The other tracts,
Tracts 2, 5, and 6, are not subject to this present dispute.
Defendants access Roney Lineberry Road (a public road shown
at the top of the map just above Tract 2) via two private
roads. These private roads are depicted on the map below as a
dotted line and a thick line, respectively. The location of
these roads, as shown on the map, is approximate. The record
before us is not clear as to the precise location of these
history of these tracts, including Plaintiffs' and
Defendants' tracts, is as follows:
As of 1989, Tracts 1-6 were all part of a single
tract (approximately one hundred nine (109) acres in
area) and were owned by the Estate of C.R. Roney (the
"Estate"). Over the years, there have been four
maps filed to subdivide this large tract, ultimately into
six tracts. And over the years, two easement roads have
been created to provide access to these tracts as they were
being created: the dotted-line road depicted above was
created by a map recorded in ...