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Hayes v. Aquia Marina, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant held a right-of way easement over Plaintiff’s land.Defendant was granted permission to expand from eighty-four boat slips to 280 boat slips, and therefore wanted to pave a driveway.Plaintiff sued Defendant to enjoin Defendant from paving the roadway. The trial court ruled in favor of Defendant. Plaintiff appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    If a change in an easement originally created by grant or reservation increases the burden on the servient land but does not change the nature of the burden, the increased burden will not be enjoined unless the easement is expressly limited to a particular use or purpose.

    Facts.

    Aquia Marina (Defendant) a small commercial marina, held a right-of-wayeasement over Hayes’s (Plaintiff) property, which was an extension of the highway and served as a means of egress and ingress to the marina. In 1989, Defendant was granted permission to expand from eighty-four boat slips to 280 boat slips. Defendant also wanted to pave a roadway Plaintiff sought to enjoin the expansion on the grounds that it would overburden the easement across his land. The trial court ruled in favor of Defendant, determining that there was never a traffic problem with the easement, that the proposed expansion would not create such a problem, that the nature of the marina’s activities would not change as a result of the expansion, that the easement could be used for commercial purposes, and that paving the road was a reasonable and proper improvement to the right of way. Plaintiff appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether the increased burden will be enjoined if a change in an easement originally created by grant or reservation increases the burden on the servient land but does not change the nature of the burden.

    Held.

    No. The trial court’s ruling is affirmed. If a change in an easement originally created by grant or reservation increases the burden on the servient land but does not change the nature of the burden, the increased burden will not be enjoined unless the easement is expressly limited to a particular use or purpose.

    Discussion.

    A change in the degree of the burden is insufficient to constitute an “additional” burden.If there is no such restriction, the easement may be used for any reasonable purpose; however, a use different from that which existed at the creation of the easement and which imposes an “additional” burden is prohibited.The increased burden is not an additional burden because the marina has always been a commercial operation.Moreover, it is clear that the deed’s use of the term “private roadway” did not limitthe use of the roadway to any particular purpose; it is not used to prescribe a certain use for.Finally, this court has no basis to conclude that the findings of the trial court regarding the impact of the proposed expansion is plainly wrong.


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