Monday, May 5, 2014

Prescriptive Easement Tears College Town Apart

Things got hot in Ann Arbor:

When Nick Delbanco and his wife moved from Vermont to Ann Arbor in 1985, they were drawn to a home near Nichols Arboretum. Just a block away, a short path led to the Arb's Main Valley. "I felt like a country boy," he recalls. "I felt like I'd managed to re-create the life of somebody who lived in woods and meadows while still being in the center of town. It was wonderful to have that path right there."

That experience meant so much to Delbanco, and several of his neighbors, that when access to the path was threatened, they fought back. Though the path crosses a private driveway and backyard, residents say they have used it for decades. So when relatively new owners of the two houses sandwiching the path decided to erect a fence, Delbanco and a group of his neighbors sued. The ensuing dispute has badly damaged the community spirit of a once tight-knit neighborhood.

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