Another thread relating to vacating a street
A subdivision/addition was created in 1870 with a nice plat on file with the county. Block 9 is much like a half block with no alley. It consists of six lots, each being 160' east to west by 60' north to south. Streets are on the north, west and south sides with the east side bordering the edge of the subdivision. Block 8 is directly to the south across a 72' wide street. The tax map shows the street to be vacated such that the south lot of Block 9 should have the north half of the street attached to it and the north lot of Block 8 should have the south half of the street attached to it.
The current deed and all of its predecessors involving the north lot of Block 8 make no mention whatsoever of the south half of the street being attached. The most recent deed for the south lot in Block 9 is a quit claim deed from the ex-wife to the ex-husband. It mentions "and a tract 37.51 feet wide on the south of Lot 11 containing the north half of vacated street". I discover the deed to the couple a few years earlier for the entire block plus the above description involving 37.51 feet. All predecessor deeds make no mention of the street being vacated.
There is no record of that portion of that street being vacated anywhere in the various records maintained in the Register of Deeds Office. There is no recorded survey showing such a vacation action and/or the mystical distance of 37.51 feet. I did find a survey that refers to another survey done by a surveyor who left the area over 30 years ago that shows bars having been set on the south line of Lot 11 in Block 9 but no mention of anything on the street center line. The only way I can come up with the creation of the 37.51 dimension is if the earlier surveyor had failed to recognize the plat width of 72' instead of the 75' streets that were platted in the original town (not this addition thereto). There is absolutely no record in the courthouse of such a vacation occurring at any time.
The entire office of the County Appraiser which creates the tax maps is closed until February 1 due to someone getting COVID and being in close contact with everyone else in that department. Big signs hang on the three entry doors explaining this.
FYI, I know someone is going to ask how the south lot of six lots can possibly be Lot 11. The standard blocks consist of 12 lots as described with a central alley running north to south between the west six and the east six. The numbering system used has Lot 1 being the northwest lot, Lot 2 being the northeast lot, Lot 11 being the southwest lot and Lot 12 being the southeast lot. Thus all lots in the west half are odd numbers and all in the east half are even numbers. Thus in the half-block which is Block 9 all six lots are odd numbers.
The happens to be an old fence down what would appear to be the center of the street to nowhere and occupation very clearly agrees with that. My nagging need to be perfect insists that I discover some document in existence that guided the Appraisers Office to decide that was the location of the true boundary. It's a good thing the client is in no big hurry.
How well is your County organized? I bet it's an ordinance buried in the minutes...
The disconnect is real. The city council probably got talking about that little stub street to nowhere one night several decades ago and no city attorney was present that night. So someone made a motion to vacate it and the motion passed. That is not how vacating actions are to be done, but they don't know any better. One of them tells the adjoiners congratulations you now can use half of the street. The adjoiner says, "What street?" Nobody actually passes an ordinance following the proper legal notices and public hearing requirements,. The catch with this is that the County Appraiser's Office must have something documenting the vacation or they would not show it that way on the map. Normally, that would involve the recording of the ordinance in the County Register of Deeds Office. That definitely did not happen.
I routinely guide the workers in the Appraisers Office on similar matters involving County roads. One came up just last week. The question was about a path leading to one person's driveway. The County has no specific document showing a road opening. However, about 30 years ago the County crews were maintaining that one-quarter mile stretch of road on a regular basis. Then the road supervisor left. Apparently the next one did not know it was being maintained so ignored it. About five years ago the old fellow living at the end of that road came in and asked the County Commissioners if they could at least plow the snow out when it gets too deep for regular travel. The Commissioners fell all over themselves apologizing to the fellow and told the current road supervisor to get that road back up in shape immediately. Therefore, I advised the workers in the Appraisers Office to show it as an open road for one-quarter mile, even though there is no document supporting that.
No record of it being vacated, how about a record of it going into the municipality?
Title could still be in the original owner.
Sounds like a paper street every lot owner in the sub would have to release title to.
in my county, I am asked to research roads as county surveyor. we have 850 miles of county roads - all documented in every possible way - so that finding the facts is an acquired art form. generally speaking, a hundred years ago the pioneers and settlers would "beg" the commissioners to convert their old wagon road into a county road by petition. how those petitions were granted were not done in a consistent manner. i have been sued twice by the heirs of the very pioneers who petitioned the county, because I find pretty good evidence that the road was surveyed and mapped in good faith - and determine that these records show that a road is a "county road". But of course, the heirs don't want anyone to pass through so the put up locked gates and sue the county (and sometimes me personally) to get the courts to rule that their roads are not county roads. anyway - many of our roads have technical flaws in the RECORDING process that throw all kinds of gray on the legal status.