June 20, 2018
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State’s supreme court overturns Superior Court ruling in Owls Head property dispute

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

OWLS HEAD, Maine — The state’s highest court has overturned a Superior Court ruling that had granted title of a portion of land on Cliff Street to a Delaware couple through a legal maneuver known as adverse possession.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled on June 28 that the level of use of the property did not rise to the level to allow an adverse possession claim by Andrew and Melinda Weinstein of Wilmington, Del.

The appeal of the Superior Court ruling was filed by Richard Hurlbert, Audrey McGlashan and Hurlbert-McGlashan LLC, who have record title to the Cliff Street waterfront property.

Hurlbert and McGlashan stated in their appeal that when they purchased the property in 2008, they made it clear that the adjacent Beach Street access to the water and use of the beach by neighbors would continue to be available.

The Weinsteins have owned an adjacent parcel since 2004 and had mowed the lawn and performed some yard work on the property. They claimed to have a right to adverse possession of the parcel before its purchase by Hurlbert and McGlashan. The high court noted the Weinsteins had removed stakes and a sign erected by the previous owner of the Hurlbert-McGlashan property that had been posted to prevent an easement claim.

The high court ruled that the Weinsteins’ use of the property was not sufficiently “hostile and notorious” to meet legal requirements for adverse possession. The justices vacated the Superior Court judgment and sent it back to the lower court for entry of judgement consistent with the supreme court ruling.

Correction: The original version of this story named only Richard Hurlbert as the appellant and listed the Weinsteins as residents of Owls Head. The earlier version also incorrectly stated that the law court had ruled that the Weinsteins did not have the right to use the waterfront property despite years of use of it by other neighbors. This article clarifies what the ruling was about and omits inaccurate statements.

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