Sunday, June 26, 2022
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Monterey Wins Court Victory In Dispute Over Bee Rock Easement

A court victory for the town of Monterey in the ongoing dispute over the entrance to Bee Rock as the State Court of Appeals denied the appeal of the Garden Inn’s owners.

Michael and Mirtha Kopec challenged a lower court ruling that said there was a clear easement granted to the natural area and that the Garden Inn owners knew that when they acquired their interest. The Kopecs argued that the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, the original organization that received the easement, was an indispensable party to the lawsuit. The Foundation received the easement from the Walker Family in 2018.

The State Appeals Court disagreed, calling the foundation’s interest at-best “remote.”

“We agree with the trial court’s determination that TPGF has no direct interest in the ingress/egress easement on Parcel 1 and does not directly benefit from the easement,” Judge Frank Clement, Jr. wrote in the ruling. “On the contrary, any benefit TPGF receives from the ingress/egress easement on Parcel 1 is merely incidental, giving it—at best—a remote interest in the outcome of this case. For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the trial court’s determination that TPGF is not an indispensable party to this action.”

The court noted that the foundation’s inclusion in the case came after “years of litigation.” The court remanded the case with costs of the appeal assessed against the Garden Inn and the Kopecs.

The town of Monterey and the Walker Family joined together for a declaratory judgment in the case. The circuit court found the 50-foot easement is legal and clearly described.

“Defendants’ position is that there should be qualifications or restrictions concerning the ingress/egress easement,” the Circuit Clerk wrote. “However, there are no restrictions on the express ingress/egress easement expressed in the deed. The Court specifically finds that the easement runs with the land, is alienable, and continues until such time as it may be extinguished. The Court finds that the language of the easement is clear and that the use is contemplated by the easement is substantially wide open, for ingress and egress. The Court further notes the undisputed fact that the express easement was known to the Defendants at the time they acquired their interest in the property.”

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