Wilton officials address land dispute; chairman wants legal opinion

WILTON – Sometimes an error made in the past comes back to trouble current town officials, and correcting that error can be difficult, if not impossible. You have to just move on.

Some years ago, Adam Royz sold a piece of property that apparently belongs to the town of Wilton. On Monday, he approached the Select Board with an armful of old deeds and other documents to support his position. Building and Land Use Administrator Michele Decoteau has also researched the case on behalf of the town, was also present.

According to the research, in 1936 the town decided to acquire land to expand Laurel Hill Cemetery. Town Meeting accepted a parcel of land from the Whiting family for “one dollar and other considerations.” As was not unusual at the time, the property was not surveyed, simply marked on a map. No boundary markers were set.

In 1963, 65 acres was sold and Robbins Road was constructed into it. Two years later, the property was sold to a developer to construct homes in Abbott Hill Acres. Again a complete survey was not made. One of those lots may include part of the property designated for the cemetery.

A survey was done in 1963, but one done in 1965 did not agree with the first, but more surveys have found the first to be correct. And, again, boundary markers were not set on the town property.

Royds contends the sellers “must have been aware that they did not own all of the lot.

My deed refers to a sub-division plan of 1963,” he said, “but a 1999 deed does not refer to it.”

Looking at the deeds now, he said, “lawyers and my title deed insurance people say this makes no sense.” Royz said they had purchased the property from a finance company.

He said, “That’s how business was done back then, no one is perfect, and I’m not trying to point fingers,” but said he blamed the sellers in 1963. “I don’t know why they did it, maybe to cut corners, but town officials were involved in the sale in 1965. He called the transaction “fraud.”

The disputed area totals 1,500 square feet. Royz said, “If they had done a survey, we wouldn’t be here.”

Last week, Selectman Kermit Williams suggested the problem be solved with a lot line adjustment, and he presented that idea again. “When he came to the Planning Board, (wanting to construct a shed) he believed he owned it all. I asked why there were no metes and bounds. The developers said it was ‘just land left over’ from a previous subdivision. They expected they had a reasonably square piece of property they could use. The town will never use as a cemetery and the town wouldn’t be damaged to give up that slice. The town should give them the land for the cost of the lot line adjustment. It’s the only fair thing to do. I don’t care what happened in the past.”

Selectman Matt Fish disputed the presentation. “The town has done nothing wrong and we shouldn’t give away town property.”

Royz said he liked the idea and was willing to pay the cost of the adjustment. “I just want to get on with my life. This has been going on for years and I’ve been paying taxes on it.”

Several neighbors spoke in favor of the lot-line adjustment, noting it was “a question of fairness.” A town official made an error and the current board should correct it.

Chairman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said she wanted a legal opinion, although Decoteau said she had one, and said to Royz, “give us a couple of weeks.”

Fish said he “would go along if the cemetery isn’t going to use it.”

The cemetery trustees will be consulted as well as town counsel.