road abandoned by county for public use but

Asked June 23, 2020, 5:51 PM EDT

Hello, this is a complicated area we live in. We own a lot that has a easement which leads to a “30’ paper” road on the plat map. These both have been used for the past 40years. Two new residents habe claimed ownership of the portion that is next to their property claiming abandonment. The road was abandoned by the county but Is still in use by residents to access their property. Is this legal? One of the residents that previously accessed the road to their cottage can longer use the road.

Kent County Michigan

1 Response

Thank you for reaching out to Michigan State University Extension.

Without all of the particulars about the arrangement and ownership of the parcels, roadway, if these are platted lots or unplatted parcels, and the exact easements I can only give some general advice about county road abandonment process here in Michigan. The key is going to be finding out who holds ownership of the land the road was previously on and what, if any easements, are on the property.

To abandon a road, the County Road Commission would have formally acted to abandon the road. If it is not abandoned, it is presumed the road/street is physically still there or intended to be there. It sounds like in your case the county has already formally acted to abandon, you can always contact the county road commission to confirm.

If the municipality holds the land the road was on, the municipality (township, city, or village) acts to vacate the land held in trust for the public (the right-of-way). If it is not vacated the municipality still holds the land in trust for public use. If it was a "user easement" the adjacent landowner owns the land. Your local Register of Deeds or a title company can help answer those ownership and easement questions and I would recommend explaining your situation to them.

The full details for road abandonment for are in Section 18 or the Michigan Public Act 283 of 1909 - The Public Highways and Private Roads Act here:
http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-224-18

If the parcels are part of a platted subdivision there are also some provisions that come into play form the Land Division Act.

For these complex issues the best advice which can be given is to use the services of a professional land surveyor and an attorney that specializes in real estate and/or municipal law.