The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled today that DeLuca's Market can keep using a narrow alley off Beacon Street for once-daily trash removal, but told the market it can no longer use the space for parking cars or trucks.
At issue was a 1947 agreement between the market and the owners of three neighboring residential buildings.
The condo associations of the three buildings sued DeLuca's in 2013 to get it to stop all motorized use of the passageway, ownership of which is split down the middle between the market and the residential buildings. The residential trustees cited clauses in the agreement that limited use of it to pedestrians and hand carts.
But the restrictions on use expired in 1997 and the trustees never tried to renew them, the court said.
At the same time, the court rejected DeLuca's argument that it had been parking vehicles in the alley for so long it had gained the permanent right to park vehicles there, under a legal concept known as "easement by prescription."
In its ruling, the justices agreed with a Superior Court judge who had awarded DeLuca's the right to use the passageway for trash removal once a day.
The judge found that it is not possible to park in the passageway without interfering with others' right to pass. Thus, we agree that no party has the right to park in the passageway. The judge also concluded that a temporary stop of a vehicle in the passageway once per day to load trash for transport to another location does not unreasonably impair the King's Chapel and LLC plaintiffs' right of passage. On the record presented, we cannot say the judge's conclusion was clearly erroneous. So long as continued temporary stopping once per day does not unreasonably impede the King's Chapel and LLC plaintiffs' easement rights, this use may continue.