by Daniel de Abreu | The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently held that where a receding shoreline had left formerly submerged lake-side land exposed for more than fifty years, the abutting property owners also owned the newly exposed land.
The case involved Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, a.k.a. Webster Lake. (The former being the lake’s Algonquian name, according to the Court.)
Imagine that you own some waterfront property, be it on a pond, river, or the ocean. Over time the shoreline changes, such that new land is formed, or, land once covered by water is uncovered. To whom does it belong?
There are many factors at play, including what the deed to the property might say about the matter, whether the water is a pond (great pond or not), river (navigable or non-navigable), or ocean; and, whether the property owner had a hand in the changing shoreline. As a general rule, however, the property line of a lot that abuts a non-navigable river is the center of the thread of the river; the property line of a lot that abuts a pond is the low water mark.
In the Appeals Court case, the low water mark had changed over time. The Court held that the property owners now owned the relicted (uncovered) land. It did not determine precisely when that occurred, but it held that half a century was long enough.
Any questions about your waterfront property line? Please contact attorney Daniel F. de Abreu at BRCSM.
This information does not constitute legal advice. Each case is fact specific. For legal advice, contact an attorney.