96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir. 5/9/97, Cavaness v. Norton

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Citation694 So.2d 1174
Parties96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir
Decision Date09 May 1997

Page 1174

694 So.2d 1174
96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir. 5/9/97
Daron CAVANESS, et al.
James NORTON, et al.
No. 96 CA 1411.
Court of Appeal of Louisiana,
First Circuit.
May 9, 1997.

Page 1175

Randall M. Alfred, Houma, for Plaintiffs--Appellees.

Robert B. Butler, III, Houma, for Defendants--Appellants.

Before LOTTINGER, C.J., and FOIL and FOGG, JJ.

[96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] FOGG, Judge.

The salient issue raised on appeal in this property case is whether a roadway located within a subdivision was statutorily or impliedly dedicated for public use.

On February 8, 1966, the developer of Broadmoor Heights Subdivision, Broadmoor Heights, Inc., caused a plat of that subdivision, which was prepared by Warren and Associates and dated June 10, 1965, to be recorded in the records of the Parish of Terrebonne under Entry No. 293354. That plat shows numerous streets, all of which are named. Block numbers are shown along all of the streets. However, only one street is lined with lots; that street is named Douglas Drive. Each lot on Douglas Drive is 108 feet deep and between 66 and 73.7 feet wide; the width of all streets is shown to be 50 feet. Gwendolyn Drive intersects Douglas Drive between Lot 25, Block 7, which adjoins the subject property to the west, and Lot 1, Block 8, which adjoins the subject property to the east. Both of these lots face Douglas Drive. Gwendolyn Drive does not continue across Douglas Street. The property in dispute consists of 108 feet of Gwendolyn Drive beginning where that street intersects with Douglas Street. There is no street dedication clause on this plat.

On April 1, 1966, Broadmoor Heights, Inc. filed in the conveyance records of the Parish of Terrebonne the Act of Restrictions for Broadmoor Heights Subdivision. Broadmoor Heights, Inc. sold Lots 9 and 10, Block 2 of Broadmoor Heights Subdivision to Sidney and Decroche on June 13, 1966. Then, on June 16 and 17, 1966, it filed two revised plats of the subdivision; on these plats there is clause which, in part, states that Gwendolyn Drive is dedicated to the public as a right of way only.

On March 4, 1994, Ordinance 4071 was filed in the conveyance records. That ordinance was passed by the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government on September 28,

Page 1176

1987, and purports to [96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] "de-dedicate and to abandon" the subject property, avering that it had been previously dedicated for use as a street.

The plaintiffs herein purchased the subject tract by a cash sale from Ulysse P. and Edna Henry Fanguy in 1995. The Fanguys acquired title from Central Appraisal Systems, Inc. in March of 1994. Central Appraisal Systems, Inc. acquired title to all of the assets of E.M. Glynn, Inc. by merger dated April 6, 1987, which had previously merged with and acquired the assets of Broadmoor Heights Subdivision on May 10, 1974.

On October 18, 1995, the plaintiffs filed the instant suit seeking a judgment declaring they are the sole owners of the subject property. Therein, the plaintiffs asserted that the subject property was never dedicated as a public road or street. Named as defendants were James and Bonnie Norton who are the owners of Lot 25, Block 7 of Broad-moor Heights Subdivision. Also named as a defendant was Robert Link who owns Lot 1, Block 8 of the Broadmoor Heights Subdivision.

After the issue was joined, the trial judge heard the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and rendered judgment in their favor finding that, under the plats filed on June 16 and 17, 1966, the tract was not dedicated as a public road. This appeal followed.

Louisiana has long recognized statutory and implied dedication of private property to the public use. Arkansas-Louisiana Gas Company v. Parker Oil Company, Inc., 190 La. 957, 183 So. 229 (1938). The effect of statutory dedication is to divest the original owner irrevocably of title and to remove the property from commerce. Once statutorily dedicated, the property is not susceptible of private or individual ownership. City of Covington v. Glockner, 486 So.2d 837 (La.App. 1 Cir.1986), writ denied, 488 So.2d 693 (La.1986); Becnel v. Citrus Lands of Louisiana, Inc., 429 So.2d 459 (La.App. 4 Cir.), writ denied, 437 So.2d 1147 (La.1983). A street impliedly dedicated is [96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir. 4] subject not to ownership, but to a servitude of use. Hailey v. Panno, 472 So.2d 97 (La.App. 5 Cir.1985); Becnel v. Citrus Lands of Louisiana, Inc., 429 So.2d 459 (La.App. 4 Cir.), writ denied, 437 So.2d 1147 (La.1983).

The pertinent legislation is LSA-R.S. 33:5051 which provides the statutory basis for dedication in Louisiana as follows:

A. Whenever the owner of any real estate desires to lay off the same into squares or lots with streets or alleys between the squares or lots and with the intention of selling or offering for sale any of the squares or lots, he shall, before selling any square or lot or any portion of same:

(1) Cause the real estate to be surveyed and platted or subdivided by a licensed land surveyor into lots or blocks, or both, each designated by number.

(2) Set monuments at all of the corners of every lot and block thereof.

(3) Write the lot designation on the plat or map, and cause it to be made and filed in the office of the keeper of notarial records of the parish wherein the property is situated and copied into the conveyance record book of such parish, and a duplicate thereof filed with the assessor of the parish, a correct map of the real estate so divided.

B. The map referenced in Subsection A of this Section shall contain the following:

(1) The section, township, and range in which such real estate or subdivision thereof lies according to government survey.

(2) The dimensions of each square in feet, feet and inches, or meters.

(3) The designation of each lot or subdivision of a square and its dimensions...

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3 cases
  • Himel v. Bourque, 2014 CA 1811.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • December 11, 2015
    ...from the act of filing a subdivision plat containing public dedication language. Cavaness v. Norton, 96–1411 (La.App. 1 Cir. 5/9/97), 694 So.2d 1174, 1178. However, the plat must be given a rational construction. 6444 Associates, L.L.C. v. City of Baton Rouge, 02–1779 (La.App. 1 Cir. 5/9/03......
  • Ronnie v. Martin, NUMBER 2010 CA 2131
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • May 6, 2011
    ...the streets is generally presumed from the act of filing the subdivision plat. Cavaness v. Norton, 96-1411 (La. App. 1st Cir. 5/9/97), 694 So. 2d 1174, 1178.Page 11 However, although a statutory dedication is properly gleaned from the instrument, the instrument must be given a rational cons......
  • Stonegate Homeowners v. City of Baton Rouge, 2001 CA 2883.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • December 20, 2002
    ...Id. Nevertheless, the intention to dedicate must be clearly established. Cavaness v. Nortoa, 96-1411, p. 5 (La.App. 1 Cir. 5/9/97), 694 So.2d 1174, 1177. If the fact of dedication is doubtful, the court must look to the surrounding circumstances to determine whether there existed an intent ......

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