Supreme Court of Alaska (2022)
In Reeves v. Goodspeed Properties, LLC, 517 P.3d 31 (Alaska 2022), the supreme court held that improvements in an easement were not necessarily unreasonable simply because they were permanent. (Id. at 40). An LLC owned a parcel of land, adjacent to a parcel owned by an individual who had rights to an easement allowing him to cross the LLC’s parcel. (Id. at 34). The LLC built a railway that encroached on the easement. (Id.). Then, the easement holder was granted approval to subdivide his land and dedicate part of his easement to serve as a public right-of-way. (Id. at 35). After that road was constructed, the LLC constructed berms on the easement that blocked access. (Id.). The superior court issued an order requiring reasonable accommodation from both parties, including that the LLC remove the berms and railway from the easement. (Id. at 36). After road construction was completed, however, the LLC would be permitted to reinstall the berms and railway in a manner that reduced interference with use of the road. (Id.). On appeal, the easement holder argued that the accommodations granted to the LLC were unreasonable because they were permanent. (Id. at 39). The supreme court affirmed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that permanent improvements are not necessarily incompatible with an easement holder’s enjoyment of the easement. (Id. at 40). Further, the supreme court reasoned that although the permanent nature of an improvement was relevant to the issue of notice, it was not determinative in the inquiry of balancing party interests to strike a reasonable accommodation. (Id.). Affirming the decision of the superior court, the supreme court held that improvements in an easement were not necessarily unreasonable simply because they were permanent. (Id.).