Can’t Get There From Here?
In the just-decided Maslow v. O’Connor, the Appeals Court addressed rights in a Gloucester subdivision road. Since Gloucester is a seaside community, naturally the case concerns water access.
The defendants own the residential lots abutting the waterfront end of Rackliffe Street, which is an old and private subdivision road that, before 1925, ended at the mean high water mark of Wonson’s Cove. Under the Derelict Fee Statute, those defendants also own to the center-line of that Street next to their lots. However, longstanding case law makes clear that the plaintiffs, who own inland lots along Rackliffe Street, have the right to use that Road all the way to its waterfront end. In addition, under legislation intended to encourage waterfront development dating back to the early days of Massachusetts (the Colonial Ordinance of 1641-1647), all members of the public have the right to use tidelands between mean high and mean low tide for purposes of fishing, fowling and navigation.
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