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Harwich access dispute

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
It would seem that new land owners along the beach have decided that they own the whole beach front and have put up illegal private beach signs to keep every one from accessing it.

The ironic part is the previous land owner deemed that the beach belonged to every one and deeded a 6 foot wide path to the beach to the town so that every one could have a legal point to get on the beach.

Well the new owner from Westwood decided he wanted the whole place to himself.

The town challenged his signs and who owns the beach front that has been a public beach for many years. The Colonial Act was sited by the Board of Selectmen and stated it should also be for recreational public use.

The new owner is attempting to say that the deeded public right of way , which is 6 feet wide only applies to where it meets the water and beach front and that they own on both sides of this public right of way and it is private beach on both sides of this public right of way all the way to the water line.

This is now in the Land bank court and the present Att general is gathering all the information as well to see if the state will get involved with this dispute.

I would like to thank the Kalicki family for the donation of this public access point and for making the attempt in bringing some rational to a potential takeover of a public beach for personal use.

You can read the whole story in today's Cape Cod Times
post #2 of 18
Hmmm....

The outcome of this could have ramifications all over the Cape and coastal Ma.
post #3 of 18
If the past owner did indeed donate a parcel of land to the town it would be recorded along with the location square footage, markers ect., just like any other piece of property. If the abutting land owners have a problem with this isn't it up to them to take the Town to court????????????

I can only invision a 6 ft. strip of land as being a walk way to the water and access in accordance with the Colonial act for hunting and fishing............. The recreational part, as in beach going is hard to understand by me because if this person did buy it, I'ts his property. Ya it sucks but if the Town wanted for a swimming beach why did'nt they buy it????????????
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Bernie the beach is public domain and in this case has been used as public beach 100 years or more.

Not really sure who is taking who to land bank court, but does it really matter. The town ruling is for the public use as a result of being given the land for that purpose to access it ,/. The line in the sand is where the beach grass[dunes] end or begins belongs perhaps to the land owner, but the sandy area has been public [no one owns it theoretically] As sand is deposited on a beach front it becomes larger and that is where the owners say that it should belong to them.

The ruling in this case may well just set an example for many other such public entry points being contested here on the cape by private home owners that feel they own the sand under the water. We have had some signage here in Sandwich that has been given a public right of way being removed by illegal signs telling every one it is a private way, when it is not.
post #5 of 18
According to the news accounts, privacy signage first started to appear about 2 years ago along this stretch of sand, and the issue is one of sand deposits from ocean currents.

Seven property owners banded together and argued that they should be able to add a 150' stretch of sand, deposited by ocean currents since 1990, to their properties, essentially creating a private beach. They filed what is normally a routine Land Court request to add beach area from sand deposited by ocean currents to their existing parcels. This 150' stretch of sand is between two town beaches.

The town then objected and an association of other owners asked to join the town's side. The Town cited a 2010 Supreme Court decision that stated the publics Colonial - era rights to access tidal property did not end when tidal areas filled with sand.

Case continued in Land Court on 1/30/14.
post #6 of 18
This stuff is why....for all the BS with Plovers and everything else that may be wrong with the National Seashore... I'm glad it's there.

Without it, the average guy would be lucky to get close enough to the Ocean to even see it by now.

All ours........ smile.gif No courts required.


post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe G View Post

According to the news accounts, privacy signage first started to appear about 2 years ago along this stretch of sand, and the issue is one of sand deposits from ocean currents.

Seven property owners banded together and argued that they should be able to add a 150' stretch of sand, deposited by ocean currents since 1990, to their properties, essentially creating a private beach. They filed what is normally a routine Land Court request to add beach area from sand deposited by ocean currents to their existing parcels. This 150' stretch of sand is between two town beaches.

The town then objected and an association of other owners asked to join the town's side. The Town cited a 2010 Supreme Court decision that stated the publics Colonial - era rights to access tidal property did not end when tidal areas filled with sand.

Case continued in Land Court on 1/30/14.

Joe could you post the link so we all can read the article, please and thak you.....................
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by b-ware View Post

Joe could you post the link so we all can read the article, please and thak you.....................


Unable to post a link because CCC will not allow me to access certain news items on their site because I've already used my three free on-line inquiries as a non-subscriber to their top news items this month.

If you have the capability, please do so.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe G View Post

Unable to post a link because CCC will not allow me to access certain news items on their site because I've already used my three free on-line inquiries as a non-subscriber to their top news items this month.

If you have the capability, please do so.[/quotte

Thanks for trying, posting something like that from another source is beyond me.......

I could'nt even find it to read.......
post #10 of 18
Here's the article

HARWICH PORT — The winter wind Friday was literally the polar opposite of summer, and the beach at the end of Bay View Road was crowded with nothing but empty pink lady slipper shells and a proliferation of signs shouting "Private Beach" to no one.

The privacy signs have been there for the past couple of years as a group of seven waterfront property owners asserted their right to have a private beach between two town beaches near the entrance to Wychmere Harbor.

They argue that they should be able to add a 150-foot stretch of sand deposited there since 1990 to their properties. When they filed what is normally a routine Land Court request last year to add the beach area from sand deposited by ocean currents to their existing parcel, the town filed an objection. An association of homeowners in the streets adjoining Bay View Road, known as the Friends of Harwich Beaches, asked to join the town's side.

The case continues in the state Land Court in Boston on Jan. 30.

"They started populating the beach with (the signs) about a year and a half ago, and they really proliferated before last summer," said Jan Kalicki whose extended family has owned a home in the Bay View area since 1921.

He claims that for more than 100 years, the beach was always open to the neighborhood, until new people from off-Cape started buying up waterfront property.

"The first thing they did was to start excluding people."

Kalicki said his late wife's great-great uncle deeded a 6-foot-wide right-of-way to the town so that people could go down and use the beach. In a sign posted at the entrance to that path, waterfront property owners now advise beachgoers that the public beach is only as wide as the right-of-way: 6 feet. The rest, the sign says, is private beach.

The town argues that a jetty built at public expense around 1885 and extended farther out into Nantucket Sound in 1937 to protect the entrance to Wychmere Harbor, trapped the eastward flow of sand that created new beach area. It cites a 2010 court case in which the Supreme Judicial Court decided that the public's Colonial-era rights to access tidal property did not end when the tidal area filled with sand.

The town is arguing that there needs to be some compensation for the loss of the public rights to access for fishing, fowling and navigation as the tidal area turned into beach.

"The ownership shouldn't go to them without some public benefit," said Harwich Selectman Ed McManus. "The public should have free access not just for the old Colonial reasons of fishing, fowling and navigation, but for recreational uses."

The case is now being negotiated in state Land Court, and state Attorney General Martha Coakley's office said recently that it wants to review all the evidence before deciding whether the state, too, could weigh in.

Waterfront property owners who live along Davis Lane said they have a right to a private beach because they paid a lot of money for that right.

"We're not bad people," said Ferris, who lives in Westwood, but has owned homes in Harwich for 15 years. The waterfront homeowners don't stop people from strolling on the beach and have invited many neighbors to use it, he said. But sometimes it gets too crowded, especially with people who are renting property in the neighborhood.

"We're all down there to relax with our families," Ferris said. "It's a private beach. ... We paid for this right. It is what it is."

Bob Nickerson, another waterfront owner, takes exception to the characterization that all those involved in the case are newcomers who couldn't appreciate that the beach was routinely used by all. He's sympathetic to the neighborhood, he said, because his family had been in the area since the late 1800s.

"My grandfather went to that beach because he knew people who owned the property," he said.

Nickerson has spent every summer on the beach even though his family didn't own waterfront property. He bought the property on Davis Lane recently, he said, because he could see the beach rights problem coming.

"With the price of housing, and as the beach becomes more of an asset and people are exercising their rights to privacy, and there's more people coming down here, it becomes contentious," he said. Still, if he let everyone use his 90-foot section of beach, it would become crowded pretty quickly, he said.

"Now they want full use and rights," Nickerson said about the neighborhood association and the town. "They say, 'You guys can own the land; we just want to use the beach.' Why should I pay millions of dollars (for waterfront property)?" he said.
post #11 of 18
Interesting arguments from both sides.............. I would imagine that a simple property survey would solve the issues but if there is indeed added land from the natural deposit of sand would'nt that go to the abutter?????????????

Keep us posted please and thanks for the article Mike
post #12 of 18
I looked at the property line's online from the assessors office and the property owners to the west of the path stop's way above the actual high water mark. The property to the east might have deeded beach rights. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.
post #13 of 18
Best bet might be to put up a fence, and charge people $6 for a walk on the beach.
Edited by newcut - 12/29/13 at 9:03pm
post #14 of 18
Just have the Town come up with a huge "New Deposited Beachfront" tax. Rebates offered to those who offer beach access.
post #15 of 18

     I've read through the thread regarding the Bay View Road, Harwich issues and feel I have some information to add. Aside from the significant accretion made possible by the 1937 extension of the Wychmere Harbor jetty (and the great benefit it would appear to have for those fronting on the water) there is, nonetheless, a countervailing effect for some owning shore frontage. The Land Court, for reasons which have nothing to do with fair-mindedness, but rather Colonial interpretation of riparian rights, requires surveyors to measure to the nearest point of shoreline when establishing an extension of beach property. This would not be of much concern if the aggregation were evenly built up along the shoreline. In the case of the Wychmere Jetty it is not evenly built up. The jetty has skewed the  beach as it collects against the stone, creating  a new angle of shoreline, actually a series of angles that take a southeasterly bent. Check it on Google maps. The consequence of the Land Court dictum is that successive surveys of a property over time lessen the actual waterfront footage for the ownerships closer to the jetty. This is because the newly surveyed and extended sidelines establishing the newly claimed beach take a tack to the west due to the skewing. Because the skewing slowly diminishes as you go west from the Wychmere Harbor Club an odd condition is created. The easterly extended sideline bearing and the westerly extended sideline bearing of a beach lot will not be exactly the same. That result puts them on a collision path, and at some point, out in the Sound they will collide extinguishing any frontage now owned. That the Land Court tolerates this condition is beyond me.

      The Thompson Brothers exerted their power at Harwich Town Hall after the jetty was built by terminating Snow Inn Rd.; not letting the road continue more and more over time in a southerly direction as the beach built up. Every other road in Harwich extends to the beach. When after a few years of accretion it was time to survey the newly created beach so that cabanas could be built the Land Court used the perpendicular to the shoreline formula starting where Snow Inn Road terminated, giving the Thompsons  a windfall, but creating a mess today. In terms of the six foot wide Bay View Road beach...a new survey using the present day Land Court formula will likely establish a width of five or less at the water's edge.

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