JAMES M. LANDIS AND DONETTA M. LANDIS
LUTHER H. WILT
ORCHARD GLEN CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC. Appellants
from the Judgment Entered November 14, 2018 In the Court of
Common Pleas of York County Civil Division at No(s):
BEFORE: BOWES, J., OLSON, J., and STABILE, J.
Glen Condominium Association, Inc. ("the
Association") appeals from the judgment entered upon the
trial court's order quieting title in a strip of land in
favor of James and Donetta Landis (collectively "the
Landises"). We affirm.
and Helen Wilt owned land in York County, Pennsylvania, which
they proposed to develop as a residential neighborhood. In
1967, the Wilts' revised subdivision plan for Smith
Gardens was approved by the East Manchester Township Board of
Supervisors and recorded. The recorded plan included
50-foot-wide Orchard View Drive among the proposed roadways
of the subdivision. The instant action arose from the fact
that most of Orchard View Drive was never opened as a
Stonesifers, Donetta Landis's parents, purchased Lot 45
in Smith Gardens in 1967. They built a house on the lot,
which was known as 55 Lincoln Place. In 1976, they acquired
the lot behind the home: Lot 41 of the Smith Gardens
subdivision plan, which abutted unopened Orchard View Drive.
In 2012, the Landises acquired Lots 45 and 41 from the
Stonesifers. From 1976 onward, the Stonesifers and
Landises mowed and fertilized the twenty-five-foot-wide strip
of land behind their property that was to have been one half
of Orchard View Drive (hereafter "Disputed Area").
The Landises also installed a fence along their property
line, separating their yard from unopened Orchard View Drive.
although additional lots and streets were developed according
to the Smith Gardens plan, more than a dozen lots along
unopened Orchard View Drive were not. Instead, these lots
were consolidated and converted into a new subdivision plan
for the Orchard Glen Residential Development. The Orchard
Glen plan was reviewed by the York County Planning Commission
in 1997, approved by the East Manchester Township Board of
Supervisors in 1998, and recorded with the Recorder of Deeds.
This new Orchard Glen subdivision entirely subsumed Orchard
View Drive in some places where it combined lots that were on
opposite sides of that proposed street. Where Smith Gardens
lots remained on the opposite side of Orchard View Drive, the
Orchard Glen subdivision plan incorporated only the half of
Orchard View Drive abutting its land. Condominiums were
constructed according to the Orchard Glen plan, and the
Association's half of what would have been Orchard View
Drive was paved and named Yarrow Court.
ease of visualization, we offer the following diagram showing
the land occupied by the Orchard Glen condominiums
superimposed on the Smith Gardens plan.
Trial Exhibit GG (modified). We also present a modified
photograph of the land at issue.
Trial Exhibit A.
of Orchard Glen condominiums began to use the Smith
Gardens' half of unopened Orchard View Drive, including
the Disputed Area, for activities such as dog walking and
playing ball. N.T. Trial, 2/7/18, at 163-64. The
Association's landscaper also plowed snow onto the
Disputed Area when there were significant snowfalls.
Id. at 172-73.
the Landises acknowledged that their predecessors had never
complained or interfered with anyone's use of the
Disputed Area during the time they owned lot 41, after they
acquired the Stonesifers' property, they began to take
steps "to exclude people from the disputed land ... to
exert their . . . dominion and control over the
property." Findings of Fact, 2/13/18, at 4-5. For
example, the Landises planted bushes, placed "no
trespassing" signs along the edges of the Disputed Area,
yelled out the window at people to stay off the land, called
the police when snow was plowed onto the Disputed Area,
picked up dog feces that was left in the area and left it at
the residence of an Association board member, and set up
motion-activated cameras to monitor the Disputed Area. N.T.
Trial, 2/7/18, at 42, 45-46, 49, 51-52, 134.
2016, the Landises filed a complaint to quiet title, naming
the successors, heirs, and assigns of Smith Gardens developer
Luther Wilt as the defendants. Therein, the Landises alleged
that they and their predecessors exercised exclusive,
visible, notorious, distinct, and hostile possession of the
Disputed Area for an uninterrupted period of more than
twenty-one years. Complaint, 8/18/16, at 2. The Association
filed a petition to intervene in the action, claiming that it
had used and maintained all or a portion of the Disputed
Area, and that determination of the action could adversely
affect its legal interests. Petition to Intervene, 12/13/16,
at 2. Following a hearing, the trial court determined that
the Association showed a prima facie case that it
had an interest in maintaining access to the Disputed Area,
and permitted it to intervene. Order Allowing Intervention,
10/18/17, at 2-3. The court also scheduled a trial on the
matter, and provided that the Landises were permitted to
assert a claim that they obtained title to the Disputed Area
through the failure of Orchard View Drive to have been opened
as a public road, in addition to their adverse possession
contentions. Order Scheduling Trial, 10/18/17, at 2.
trial, the parties offered testimony and exhibits to
establish the facts detailed above regarding the ownership
and use of the land at issue. After the parties'
submission of post-trial briefs, the trial court entered an
order indicating that its verdict was in favor of the
Landises, and directing them to prepare a deed describing the
Disputed Area. Order, 4/19/18. The Association filed a timely
post-trial motion seeking judgment notwithstanding the
court's order/verdict, or modification of the order to
acknowledge an easement in favor of the Association. The
trial court denied the motion after entertaining oral
argument and briefing by the parties. The Association filed a
premature notice of appeal from the order denying its
post-trial motion, which we treat as an appeal from the
judgment upon the trial court's verdict subsequently
entered on November 14, 2018. See Pa.R.A.P. 905(5)
("A notice of appeal filed after the announcement of a
determination but before the entry of an appealable order
shall be treated as filed after such entry and on the day
thereof."). Both the Association and the trial court
complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.
Association presents two questions for this Court's
consideration, which we have ...