A Scituate resident who had part of his property taken away by easement said he will seek reparations from the town in the coming months.
Dan Farrington, who lives on Turner Road, was one of three property owners who were asked to grant the town an easement to the back portion of their properties after the December storm in 2010 damaged the sea wall on the houses’ lots.
Town officials say they need the easement to permanently repair the seawall, which was temporarily fixed with rip rap following the storm.
The fix includes a section of reinforced concrete sea wall, stone revetment, and a 10-foot-deep splash pad that would run the 30-foot length of Farrington’s property.
However, the splash pad requires that no permanent structures be placed over it, and the easement would take up approximately half of Farrington’s backyard.
Although the other two neighbors agreed to the easement, Farrington said there were too many implications for him to, in essence, gift the land to the town.
“The easement they want on paper says a 10-foot easement…that translates to 50 percent of my backyard property, the ocean-facing property,” Farrington said. “With such an easement, you can never build on it, you have build restrictions. And the town wanted me to gift that to them. It affects property value, it’s 50 percent of my rear-facing property, it affects how I replace the deck I lost.”
Furthermore, Farrington said he doesn’t think his neighbors understand the implications of the easement.
“Though the easement affects them as much with property values, they are a bit naïve and don’t recognize the implications,” he said.
Farrington said he would be open to a temporary easement with the town, but the town maintains that a permanent one is necessary.
“Because we’re using public moneys, we need permanent easement to make subsequent repairs,” DPW Director Al Bangert said in a phone conversation late last month. “Just as if they were putting in drainage…we would need ongoing easements to maintain it because we’ll be responsible for it forever.”
Farrington refused to give the town the easement, which lead to selectmen voting to take the easement in a meeting on May 22. With that action, work will commence on repairing the sea wall within six weeks.
Farrington said he has been pressing the town to fix the sea wall since it broke, and never heard about an easement until October 2011.
But no one from the town approached him in person, he said, and engineering drawings accompanying the easement letter showed an easement that was 16 feet from the top of the wall, which would have been 80 percent of Farrington’s backyard.
The easement size has since been resolved, but Farrington said what remains is still troubling.
“In a lot of ways, I think it’s a shame. All along we should have done this cooperatively, but the DPW has a mandate to pursue a land grab…and it’s important to note, I’m not getting an [entirely] new sea wall,” Farrington said.
DPW have argued that all the residents are, in fact, benefiting from the repair.
“The town needs to repair the seawall to protect the street, neighbors, and his house. The diminish value of his property is a joke, as his property right now is much lower by virtue that the seawall in front of his house is very vulnerable," Bangert said. "So we will be increasing the value of his property…when one sues it's that the land taking lowered the value of his property. In this case, the land taking is for the expressed purpose of improving and protecting the property. If there is some legal action, the town wil indeed prevail.”
For Farrington, the fact that the sea wall is being repaired is the most important thing. But he will do what he can to get what he is owed, he said.
“I want to just move on, and see the sea wall repaired, but I’m not looking to delay things,” he said. “As they take property by eminent domain, they have a right to do so, but I will look to pursue damages.”