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Cox v. Glenbrook Co

    Brief Fact Summary. An easement is the only existing ingress and egress into an 80 acre tract of land. One landowner wants to widen the road, the other wants to keep it undeveloped.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The size of an appurtenant easement is determined by the intent of the grantor.

    Facts. Henry Quill obtained the Quill Easement from the Glenbrook Company, which gave him use of the roads on Glenbrook Company’s property. After Quill’s death, his property was sold, and came into the hands of Cox and Detrick. Cox and Detrick (Plaintiffs) plan to divide into approximately 40 parcels to build homes. The Quill Easement is the only existing ingress and egress form the tract. Glenbrook Company (Defendant) has a resort business, which has a quiet atmosphere that the company wants to maintain. Plaintiffs want to widen the road used by Quill.

    Issue. When an easement appurtenant grants a right of way, will the easement be violated if the intent of the original parties is not followed?

    Held. Yes.
    The Quill Easement does not contain a restriction that the easement granted is to be appurtenant to the dominant estate only while the estate remains in single possession. So, even though Plaintiffs are dividing the parcel, all of the eventual owners will be able to use the Easement because the original parties intended for the easement to remain even if the land was divided.
    The owner of an easement may prepare, maintain, improve or repair the way in a manner to promote the purpose for which the easement was created, as long as an undue burden is not caused on the servient estate.
    When the width of the road is not specified in the writing, the conveying instrument must be construed in the light of the facts and circumstances. existing at its date and affecting the property. The intent of the parties is the object of the inquiry. If the intention of the parties at the time of the grant is to keep the road at its original width, later owners cannot widen the road.

    Discussion. Appurtenant easements benefit the entire dominant estate and so will be apportionable among subsequent owners when the dominant estate is divided.


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