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Spotsy driveway 'moved' onto neighbor's property
Spotsylvania couple finds out that the driveway they thought belonged to them goes with the next-door property

 Maggie and Thomas Smith discovered that the property lines at their Spotsylvania County home do not extend as far as they had been told.
MIKE MORONES/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 8/21/2009

BY BILL FREEHLING

Maggie and Thomas Smith's plans to build a fence around their Spotsylvania County property led to a most unpleasant discovery.

Last year the Smiths hired GeoMetrics GPS Inc. of Stafford County to survey and mark the corners of their property in Sylvania Heights for a fence line. They'd been living at the Cape Cod-style house since buying it for $211,300 in June 2007.

There's a driveway between the Smiths and their neighbor on third Street. For nearly a year, the Smiths had been using the driveway and assuming it was theirs. That's what they were told when they bought the house, and what the survey done for settlement indicated.

But the second survey for the fence line showed the driveway belonged to the Smiths' neighbor. The original survey company, Falls Church-based LS2PC, did another survey and realized the first one was wrong.

Since then, the Smiths' neighbor, who could not be reached for this article, has been using the driveway. The Smiths don't have anywhere else to put a driveway on the property.

"We're kind of stuck," Thomas Smith said.

The Smiths' property and the lots surrounding it used to be owned by the same family. It was therefore less of an issue what driveway belonged to what house. Now it's more important.

The Smiths believe they were sold something that wasn't what it seemed, and they think they should be compensated for the entire price of the home. They are weighing their options.

They filed a claim with Lawyers Title Insurance Corp., but it was denied on the grounds that the title to the land was not defective and remained marketable, and that the Smiths still had access to the house from a public road. The policy doesn't insure that the driveway was part of the property, according to the letter the Smiths received from Lawyers Title.

Mark Steele, who owns Title Professionals Inc. in the Fredericksburg area, read the letter from Lawyers Title and said he thinks the right conclusion was reached.

"They insure what's in the lot, not what's adjacent to the lot," Steele said.


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