RACHEL WILLIAMS, TIMOTHY WILLIAMS, IVAN GLEASON, VERNA GLEASON, ANN GILLES, NORMAN GILLES, JEFFREY BRAGG, KATHY BRAGG, PATRICIA BRAGG and WAYNE BRAGG, Plaintiffs
MARK GOULD, Defendant and PIKE INDUSTRIES, INC. DEL WIN PHILBRICK, SANDRA PHILBRICK and TOWN OF SIDNEY, Parties in Interest
ORDER FOR ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
matter came before the Court for trial on June 30, 2016. The
Court has considered the evidence and testimony admitted at
trial, as well as the parties' written closing arguments,
the last of which was received on July 29, 2016, and issues
the following findings and Order for entry of Judgment.
Plaintiffs are represented by Attorney Mariah Gleaton. Mark
Gould represented himself at trial but retained Attorney
James Mitchell to file a written argument on his behalf. That
argument concedes that Plaintiffs' memorandum
"states the law properly" regarding private ways
and obstructions. It also concedes that all issues were tried
"by express or implied consent under Rule 15(b)."
The memo further narrows the issues before the Court to
whether Mr. Gould unreasonably interfered with other
parties' use of the road in question, and whether the
improvements he claims he made constitute trespass.
(Defendant Gould's Memorandum of Law, pg. 1-2).
parties, including the above-named parties-in-interest, own
real estate which abuts a discontinued portion of 8 Rod Road
in Sidney. The road runs for just under a mile in a southerly
direction to where it meets the Norman Road, ending at
property owned by Carol Meader. The road is 4 rods wide.
Plaintiffs' Exhibit 12 is a survey created by licensed
surveyor Greg Carey who was retained by Plaintiff Jeffrey
Bragg for this litigation.
Gould owns land at 198 Drummond Road in Sidney, and his
property borders the west side of the discontinued portion of
the road. Exhibit A attached to Plaintiffs closing argument
is the deed to Mr. Gould and his wife Diane Gould dated June
14, 1983 from Paul E. Emery as recorded at Book 2812 Page 331
in the Kennebec County Registry of Deeds.
evidence shows that in 1959 the Kennebec County Commissioners
discontinued the 8 Rod Road, while preserving a "private
way." (Plaintiffs' Exhibits 5, 6, and 2A). This
preservation created a public easement over the 8 Rod Road.
23 M.R.S. §3021(2) 2008. See also, Franklin Property
Trust v. Foresite, Inc. 438 A.2d 218 (Me. 1981).
at trial testified credibly that Mr. Gould has obstructed
their use of the 8 Rod Road in various ways over a
significant period of time. Selectman Jonathan Whitcomb
testified that there were issues in the past with Mr. Gould
placing hay trailers and excavators on the road, with the
current problem being Mr. Gould's placement of a combine
on the easement. On August 11, 2014 the Town sent Mr. Gould a
letter advising him that the combine was blocking the Norman
Williams owns property off the 8 Rod Road (Pl's Exh. 13).
She can access her property from the Springer Road but she
described that road as being in poor condition. They use the
8 Rod Road as well but testified that Mr. Gould has made that
difficult. A fence "appeared" obstructing the road,
along with other barriers. She testified that the combine has
been there "for years" and she made it clear that
all of these barriers have made travel up and down the road
to be very difficult.
Burgess is Road Foreman for Sidney. He testified that part of
his job is to keep "open" any road used by the
public. While he does not maintain the 8 Rod Road, he
testified that he has been called upon to ask Mr. Gould to
keep the road accessible to the public. He testified that Mr.
Gould was willing to remove barriers when asked, but that
after removal the "stuff comes back."
Bragg testified that there is a road bed under the 8 Rod
Road. The road bed makes it possible to bring farm equipment
and vehicles down the road but he testified that he could
not, as Mr. Gould believes, drive off the road bed around the
obstacles Mr. Gould has placed on the road.
Bragg owns property along the Norman Road and a large parcel
along the 8 Rod Road. He uses it for cropland and for
pasture. He testified that people depend on getting to the
Norman Road to access their property as the Springer Road is
often a "mud run." In addition, he testified that
Mr. Gould has placed forage boxes, debris and the combine
along the road making it difficult for people to access the
road. He testified that Mr. Gould had placed more barriers on
the road while the litigation has been pending.
Gould owns approximately 65 acres along the road. He admitted
placing the combine and leaving it on or next to the road as
Plaintiffs claim, and testified that he could move the
combine if given a reasonable amount of time to do so. He
claims that the people who complain about his use of the road
could access their property another way, specifically from
Route 104. He claims that vandals have let his animals out of
their fenced pastures, and generally denies that he has done
anything unreasonable to obstruct others' use of the
Court finds that Plaintiffs have proven that Mr. Gould has
blocked the road bed by his combine and other obstacles
including a metal fence. The Court further finds that these
acts constitute an unreasonable interference with the public
easement which permits unobstructed access to the easement by
the Plaintiffs and other members of the public.
Court further concludes that Plaintiffs are entitled to
declaratory and injunctive relief. With respect to
declaratory relief, they have proven that there is a public
easement over the discontinued portion of the 8 Rod Road from
Dana Norman's residence, at a pin set by the Town of
Sidney, running approximately .9 miles south to the property
now or formerly owned by Carol Meader. The property owners
adjacent to this discontinued road own up to the center line
of the discontinued portion of the road.
addition, Plaintiffs have met the four criteria required by
Maine law for obtaining injunctive relief. Windham Land
Trust v. Jeffords,967 A.2d 690 (Me. 2009). First, the
Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if they are not
allowed to access their property. Second, that injury
outweighs any harm that granting injunctive relief would
inflict on Mr. Gould, as he has ample acreage which can
accommodate the combine and other equipment. Third, the
public interest will not ...