Old Lyme – To watch Tantummaheag Landing, you wouldn’t know it was public land. And according to the owner of the adjacent property, that’s not the case.
Amid continued claims by residents that visitors are being denied access to the unmarked riverside access point, Senior Selectman Tim Griswold said this week it was time to put the property issues on the spot. at Tantummaheag Landing “in the spotlight”.
The statement came after more than nine months of discussions before the Port Management Commission and the Selection Board.
At Tuesday’s elected officials meeting, three Coult Lane residents asked members why the signs identifying Tantummaheag Landing as public property had not been put back in place after they were removed almost a year ago.
According to appraiser records, Carla D’Arista and George Frampton purchased the 3.67 acre property identified as 12 Tantummaheag Road last September for $ 1.15 million, along with a 0.3 acre piece of land. identified as 19 Tantummaheag Road. The assessor’s map treats the area between 12th and 19th Tantummaheag as a city road.
Known as Town Landing, the less than half an acre property was used by settlers to bring salt bales ashore after harvesting the Connecticut River salt marshes. It is now used by some residents to launch kayaks and canoes into the river.
Paul Reid, of Coult Lane, said people have been told they have to vacate the property because it is private. He described it as “another aggressive tactic” on Frampton’s part to claim ownership of the city previously identified as his own.
“I think the city needs to start acting a little more aggressively,” Reid said. “Put the panels in place. Stake out the claim that it is the property of the city. “
Coult Lane resident Sheila Riffle said a contractor working on the property told her she was told not to let people access the water.
“I respectfully replied that until the city provided me with documents, I could not access the property, and that it was in fact private property, which I respectfully would continue to access. “she said.
Local entrepreneur Greg Faucher, who identified himself as the house keeper, said he told people not to use the driveway in their vehicles. It is because people entered the yard, parked there, and gathered near the house.
“A handful of people messed it up for everyone,” he said.
The previous owner came up with the idea in 2007 of exchanging more than 12 acres she owned on Mile Creek Road for the small town-owned plot. She withdrew the proposal amid reactions from Coult Lane residents who said the business would increase its riparian holdings along the Connecticut River while depriving dozens of homeowners, who do not own any riparian property, of access. full to the river.
Frampton submitted a 16-page document to Griswold in July describing the history and ownership of the property from the late 17th century using title searches and broader historical research. He argues that no act until 1951 separated the landing of 12 and 19 Tantummaheag Road, and that the 1951 act was based on a “false” investigation conducted in 1931.
Griswold told residents of Coult Road that he gave the document to the town’s lawyer for review, but had not received a response. The city is represented by the New London law firm Suisman Shapiro.
“I’m going to talk to the lawyer again and say this is becoming a problem, a bigger problem,” Griswold said. “We have to bring this to the fore and understand it.”
The head coach said Old Lyme continues to maintain the land is owned by the city. He also referred to the idea of a “prescriptive easement”.
A normative easement occurs when a court finds that the use of someone else’s property has been “open, visible, continuous and uninterrupted for fifteen years,” according to state law.
Frampton said on the phone Friday that his concern was about parking.
“From the start, our position has always been that we wanted to allow pedestrians, people who walked there, to bring their dogs, to jog,” said Frampton.
But he said those who park there to unload their kayaks pose a threat to the safety of those in his home as well as the environment.
The Frampton document indicates that in 1701, authorities reached an agreement with the then owner to allow the city access to the landing stage. This happened when the owner erected a fence around a separate property which was found to encroach on city-owned land.
Frampton argued that the right of way established in 1701 no longer exists, but if it did, it would likely be on his neighbor’s property.
The Harbor Management Commission voted in January to keep a boulder placed by Frampton in the center of the narrow lane leading into the water to prevent cars from getting too close to the water.
But Frampton said he decided to seek ownership of the land when the city refused to ban parking altogether.
“Right now I think we need to talk to the city because we’re sort of operating in a different universe since the city’s own documents show that we own it. And there is no right of way. “, did he declare.
Frampton said he had not had a conversation with any official since he submitted the document several months ago. He received a voicemail message from Griswold after Tuesday’s meeting but did not speak to him.
Griswold after Tuesday’s meeting told The Day that conversations about the parking lot had involved two places “towards the water”. He said the signage discussed would inform people that there is private property to the left and the landing to the right.
Frampton said he believed signage was unlikely to be installed on what he described as private property.
“It’s not really a question of access at the end of the day,” he said. He estimated that 90 to 95% of the people who use the area are pedestrians, and he will continue to allow them on the property.
“The access problem is, can people use it as if it were a public highway as long as they respect our privacy? And the answer is yes,” he said. he declares.
Frampton admitted that the rest of the visitors to Tantummaheag Landing, who he said use it “a few times a year” for kayaking, will be angry that they have to find another place to get to the water.
He said he had seen real estate listings over the past 20 years for houses on Coult Lane that advertised notarized access to the river through the landing stage, which he compared to real estate fraud, based on his claim that it is his private property.
Riffle, one of the residents of Coult Lane, said his concern is that doing nothing sends the message that the town does not know who owns the land. She said she bought her land in part because of its proximity to access to water and that she, as a resident, would expect authorities to “continue to behave as if the city owned it “.
The town’s two chosen men, Mary Jo Nosal and Chris Kerr, said they would like to see a letter sent to Frampton now in town ownership and reiterating the need to allow public access.