Steponaitis v. Gravel
Construction of a driveway and use of property for more than 15 years, under the belief that the plaintiff owned the property, can qualify as open, visible exclusive and uninterrupted, for purposes of adverse possession. The plaintiff's husband purchased 18 acres of property in Torrington, and he conveyed the parcel to the plaintiff in 1976. As a result of her conversations with a real estate agent and a former neighbor, the plaintiff believed that a maple tree with yellow paint marked the northwestern corner of her property. The actual border was 100 feet south of the maple tree. In 1977, the plaintiff obtained permission from the State of Connecticut to build a driveway that connected to Route 272 over the western portion of the disputed property. The plaintiff arranged to trim trees, arranged electric service, hired an excavator to construct the driveway, placed items along the driveway and placed a wooden playhouse near Route 272. The court found that the plaintiff's use of the western portion of the disputed parcel qualified as open, visible, exclusive and uninterrupted, for more than 15 years. The court granted the plaintiff's motion to quiet title on the basis of adverse possession to the western portion of the disputed parcel. The plaintiff also alleged that she built bridges on the eastern portion of the disputed parcel, which was heavily wooded and rugged. The plaintiff also posted "no trespassing" signs and permitted an individual to hunt on the property. Although the plaintiff also believed that she owned the eastern portion of the disputed parcel, she did not exercise the same amount of use, in part because a river separated it from the western portion. The plaintiff failed to provide enough notice, as a result of her use of the eastern portion of the disputed property, that she publicly claimed the property as her own. "Occasional picnicking and sporadic hunting," wrote the court, "is not sufficient to openly and publicly indicate control of the land." The court granted judgment to the defendant neighbors on the plaintiff's motion to quiet title to the eastern portion of the disputed parcel.