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IKEA Center Urban Renewal, L.P. v. AFI Food Services Distributors, Inc..

2006 WL 463547 (N.J. Super. Ch. Div. 2006) (Unpublished)

EASEMENTS—An asphalt apron meets the definition of an “existing paved driveway connection” in an easement description.

In a deed conveying title to a road, the grantor retained an easement for ingress and egress to benefit itself and its successors and assigns. The easement granted access to the existing road and “existing paved driveway connections[.]” The grantor subsequently leased an adjoining parcel to a third party, and the third party sought to have its trucks make use of an asphalt apron (a paved connection between a driveway and a road) for ingress and egress over the deeded road. The grantee of the road objected to such use, claiming the asphalt apron did not exist at the time the deed was drafted, or in the alternative, that it did not constitute an “existing paved driveway connection,” and, as such, neither the grantor nor its assignee (the lessee of the adjoining lot) retained an easement over the asphalt apron onto the road.

The Court weighed the testimony and the submitted proofs. It found the testimony of the lessee and grantor to be more credible than the testimony of the objecting grantee, and concluded that the asphalt apron did exist at the time the road was deeded. Again, weighing the credible evidence, the Court concluded that the asphalt apron met the definition of an “existing paved driveway connection.” Based on those two findings, the Court held that the easement existed for the benefit of the grantee and the lessee over the asphalt apron, and the lessee could have its trucks make use of the asphalt apron.

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