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Robert "Bob" Sayers v. Chouteau County

February 27, 2013

ROBERT "BOB" SAYERS, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
CHOUTEAU COUNTY, A POLITICAL ENTITY OF THE STATE OF MONTANA, DEFENDANT AND APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twelfth Judicial District, In and For the County of Chouteau, Cause No. DV 10-12 Honorable Kenneth R. Neill, Presiding Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Brian Morris

Submitted on Briefs: October 17, 2012

Decided: February 26, 2013

Filed:

Clerk

Justice Brian Morris delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶1 Robert "Bob" Sayers (Sayers) appeals an order of the Twelfth Judicial District Court, Chouteau County, that granted summary judgment to Chouteau County (County) on Sayers's claim seeking declaratory relief regarding whether the entire length of Lippard Road constituted a public roadway. We affirm.

¶2 We address the following issues on appeal:

¶3 Whether the District Court properly applied the standard set forth in Reid v. Park County to the question of whether Lippard Road constituted a public roadway?

¶4 Whether the District Court properly determined that the entire length of Lippard Road constitutes a public roadway?

FACTS

¶5 Sayers owns approximately 5,400 contiguous acres of mostly undeveloped farmland in Chouteau County. Most of Sayers's property is located in Township 26 North, Range 10 East. A portion of Sayers's property, including his residence, is located within Township 25 North, Range 10 E. Sayers purchased his property in 1992 from the Federal Land Bank.

¶6 Lippard Road starts on the northern section line in Section 20, Township 26 North, Range 10 East. The road physically terminates in Section 1, Township 25 North, Range 10 East. Sayers filed a complaint in 2010 that seeks a declaratory judgment regarding whether Lippard Road remains a county road past its intersection with Section 26 and 27 in Township 26 North, Range 10 East (Section 26 and 27 Intersection). The following diagram is not included in the record, but it roughly represents the physical layout of Lippard Road according to the evidence included in the record.

¶7 It is unclear when and where the first county road through Sayers's land was established. The record contains an undated petition in support of establishing a "proposed Lippard road." The petition is addressed to the "Honorable [B]oard of County Commissioners" and states, "We are Homesteaders near Lippard station. And would like the proposed Lippard Road opened up." Twelve self-identified "homesteaders near Lippard station," including Chas Lippard, a predecessor-in-interest to Sayers's property, signed the document. Chas Lippard's home was located in Section 1, Township 25 North, Range 10 East.

¶8 The parties submitted identical maps that depict a location marked as "Lippard" in Section 1, Township 25 North, Range 10 East. Section 1, Township 25 North, Range 10 East, lies south of the Section 26 and 27 Intersection. The maps locate "Lippard" south of railroad tracks found in Section 1, Township 25 North, Range 10 East. The maps depict a Lippard Road that travels to Lippard.

ΒΆ9 The parties appear to agree regarding the location of the point on the maps labeled "Lippard." The parties dispute, however, the meaning of the term "Lippard Station," as used in the undated petition and found in other pertinent documents. The parties further dispute how Lippard Station had been used by the public. The record remains unclear whether ...


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