Driveway ordered reopened

April 20, 1995|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

A Westminster lawyer has been ordered to reopen a driveway he blocked three years ago, cutting off one of two access roads to a local wine shop.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr. also ordered Six East Main Partnership to pay court costs in the suit filed against it by Locust Wines Ltd.

When the suit was filed, lawyers Robert H. Lennon and David B. Weisgerber were partners in Six East Main. Mr. Weisgerber left the partnership in June 1993.

The judge ordered Mr. Lennon to remove the curb he installed at the rear of his office at 6 E. Main St. by the end of this month.

The curb left the driveway open for law office customers, but stopped motorists from using it to reach Locust Wines at 10 E. Main St., south of the law office.

Mr. Lennon refused to say whether he plans to appeal, but said the case involves "pending litigation, and it would be inappropriate to comment."

To reach Locust Wines after the lawyers blocked the driveway, motorists used the nameless street that leads to the rear of the Westminster library.

Wine shop owner Brady O. Bryson filed suit in March 1993. The suit claimed that the driveway had been used by the public continuously for more than 20 years, the legal test of whether a public right of way -- or easement -- has been established.

Judge Goudy found, after delving into Westminster history to construction of Western Maryland Railroad tracks in 1862, that a public easement had been established to provide access to the Locust Wines property.

Mr. Bryson refused comment. His lawyer, John H. Zink III, said the wine shop owner "is pleased and, I think, in a sense, relieved" that the access drive is to be reopened. "That's important to his customers," Mr. Zink said.

Mr. Lennon was Mr. Bryson's lawyer when he bought the Locust Wines property in 1982. The suit said Mr. Lennon failed to warn Mr. Bryson that the property could lose use of the alley. It said Mr. Lennon advised the wine shop owner that it was unnecessary to put a clause in the sale contract that would have made the sale contingent on having two entrances to Main Street.

The building at 6 E. Main St. was owned by Baltimore Federal Savings & Loan from 1963 to 1991.

Baltimore Federal allowed the public to use the driveway, testimony at the trial showed.

Mr. Lennon and Mr. Weisgerber bought the building in 1991 from Resolution Trust Corp., which managed Baltimore Federal's assets after the savings and loan became insolvent.

The case was heard by Judge Goudy after all Carroll County Circuit judges disqualified themselves from hearing it.

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