Mahony v. Board of Assessors of Watertown

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtBefore TAURO; QUIRICO
Citation285 N.E.2d 403,362 Mass. 210
Decision Date23 June 1972
PartiesFrederick J. MAHONY v. BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF WATERTOWN et al.

Page 403

285 N.E.2d 403
362 Mass. 210
Frederick J. MAHONY
v.
BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF WATERTOWN et al.
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex.
Argued May 5, 1972.
Decided June 23, 1972.

[362 Mass. 211]

Page 405

James F. Sullivan, Boston, for plaintiff.

Philip F. Grogan, Watertown, for defendants.

Before [362 Mass. 210] TAURO, C.J., and REARDON, QUIRICO and HENNESSEY, JJ.

[362 Mass. 211] QUIRICO, Justice.

This is a bill in equity under G.L. c. 231A seeking declaratory and other relief against the board of assessors and the tax collector of the town of Watertown in connection with an easement allegedly granted by the plaintiff to the town. By a written statement of agreed facts the parties submitted the case to a judge of the Superior Court for determination of the validity and effect of a specific provision of the document granting the easement. The judge ruled that the provision was invalid and entered a final decree accordingly. This is the plaintiff's appeal from that decree.

We have everything in the record before us which the trial judge had before him. We therefore decide the questions of law involved in the agreed facts and enter an appropriate final decree unaffected by his rulings. Pitman v. Pitman, 314 Mass. 465, 475, 50 N.E.2d 69. Fiduciary Trust Co. v. Mishou, 321 Mass. 615, 631, 75 N.E.2d 3. Stamper v. Stanwood, 339 Mass. 549, 551, 159 N.E.2d 865. Rogers v. Attorney Gen. 347 Mass. 126, 130--131, 196 N.E.2d 855.

We summarize the pertinent agreed facts. The plaintiff owned land with buildings thereon numbered 27 through 43 Main Street, in Watertown. The buildings occupied the front portion of the land, and the rear portion comprising 9,461 square feet was vacant. On October 23, 1959, at a meeting attended by the plaintiff and the town's three selectmen, the chairman of its board of assessors and its town counsel, the plaintiff executed a deed granting the town an easement to use the 9,461 squre feet of vacant land 'for the sole purpose of establishing and maintaining a public off-street parking area thereon.' The deed provided that it was 'given and accepted upon the conditional limitations that he easement title interest of the . . . (town) shall continue only [362 Mass. 212] so long as: . . . 4--The lands herein granted are exempt from the assessment or collection of municipal taxes thereon, while used for a public off-street parking area.' On November 30, 1959, the selectmen, purporting to act for the town, executed a document accepting the granted easement subject to all of its terms and conditions, including that quoted above. On December 9, 1959, the deed and acceptance, together with related partial releases by lessees and mortgagees of the premises, were recorded in the registry of deeds.

After the documents were recorded the town took possession of the 9,461 square feet covered by the easement, paved the area with blacktop, painted lines to indicate parking spaces and installed parking meters. As thus improved, the area became a part of a contiguous larger preexisting parking area owned by the town, and the town has continued to use it in this manner to the present.

Notwithstanding the condition quoted above from the deed, the assessors assessed taxes on the plaintiff's entire land, including the 9,461 square feet covered by the easement, for each of the years from 1960 through 1968, and they have not exempted any part of the property from taxes or abated any of the taxes thereon. 1 Two of

Page 406

the present assessors were in office when the easement was granted, and the third took office later. None of them ever assented to the grant or any condition thereof.

The written statement of agreed facts concludes as follows: 'The sole issue presented is whether or not condition #4 of the 'Grant and Release of Easements' has the legal effect of exempting the vacant land granted thereby to the Town for use as a public off-street parking area from assessment or collection of the general property tax.'

Limiting ourselves to the sole issue which the statement presents for decision, we hold that condition no. 4 of the [362 Mass. 213] 'Grant and Release of Easements' does not have the legal effect of exempting the 9,461 square feet of land covered by the purported easement from assessment or collection of the general property tax.

Perhaps it would be sufficient to support our conclusion if we said the purported conveyance of an...

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8 practice notes
  • DiGloria v. Chief of Police of Methuen
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • October 25, 1979
    ...own inferences, decide the questions of law involved, and determine the appropriate judgment. Mahony v. Bd. of Assessors of Watertown, 362 Mass. 210, 211, 285 N.E.2d 403 (1972); Boston Teacher's Union v. School Comm. of Boston, 370 Mass. 455, 468, n.9, 350 N.E.2d 707 (1976); Foxborough v. B......
  • Henry Perkins Co. v. Board of Assessors of Bridgewater
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • January 17, 1979
    ...v. State Tax Comm'n, 371 Mass. ---, --- (Mass.Adv.Sh. (1976) 2490, 2492), 356 N.E. 698 (1976). 6 See Mahony v. Assessors of Watertown, 362 Mass. 210, 214, 285 N.E.2d 403 (1972). Cf. Fernandes Super Mkts., Inc. v. State Tax Comm'n, 371 Mass. ---, --- (Mass.Adv.Sh. (1976) 2572, 2573), 357 N.E......
  • Com. v. Jervis
    • United States
    • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
    • September 30, 1975
    ...single course of conduct in the several offences charged nor was there proof of guilt by substantially the same evidence.' Id. at 201, 285 N.E.2d at 403. In the present case, the judge denied the motion to sever on the assistant district attorney's representation that 'the entire evidence I......
  • Zullo, In re, No. 93-P-1428
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • January 6, 1995
    ...judge, therefore, is in the record before us, and we may arrive at our own conclusions of law. See Mahony v. Assessors of Watertown, 362 Mass. 210, 211, 285 N.E.2d 403 (1972); Richardson v. Lee Realty Corp., 364 Mass. 632, 634, 307 N.E.2d 570 (1974); Foxborough [37 Mass.App.Ct. 372] v. Bay ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • DiGloria v. Chief of Police of Methuen
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • October 25, 1979
    ...own inferences, decide the questions of law involved, and determine the appropriate judgment. Mahony v. Bd. of Assessors of Watertown, 362 Mass. 210, 211, 285 N.E.2d 403 (1972); Boston Teacher's Union v. School Comm. of Boston, 370 Mass. 455, 468, n.9, 350 N.E.2d 707 (1976); Foxborough v. B......
  • Henry Perkins Co. v. Board of Assessors of Bridgewater
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • January 17, 1979
    ...v. State Tax Comm'n, 371 Mass. ---, --- (Mass.Adv.Sh. (1976) 2490, 2492), 356 N.E. 698 (1976). 6 See Mahony v. Assessors of Watertown, 362 Mass. 210, 214, 285 N.E.2d 403 (1972). Cf. Fernandes Super Mkts., Inc. v. State Tax Comm'n, 371 Mass. ---, --- (Mass.Adv.Sh. (1976) 2572, 2573), 357 N.E......
  • Com. v. Jervis
    • United States
    • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
    • September 30, 1975
    ...single course of conduct in the several offences charged nor was there proof of guilt by substantially the same evidence.' Id. at 201, 285 N.E.2d at 403. In the present case, the judge denied the motion to sever on the assistant district attorney's representation that 'the entire evidence I......
  • Zullo, In re, No. 93-P-1428
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • January 6, 1995
    ...judge, therefore, is in the record before us, and we may arrive at our own conclusions of law. See Mahony v. Assessors of Watertown, 362 Mass. 210, 211, 285 N.E.2d 403 (1972); Richardson v. Lee Realty Corp., 364 Mass. 632, 634, 307 N.E.2d 570 (1974); Foxborough [37 Mass.App.Ct. 372] v. Bay ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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