Abandoned Use: Former Property Owner Fights to Regain Land
Richard Gray has been trying to get back a 13,000-square foot sliver of land that once belonged to his father. The Town of Sharon condemned it in 1961 for a road that was never built. A total of 42 acres belonging to 55 families were taken at the time. In 2000, Gray convinced the Board of Selectmen to vote in favor of declaring the land “surplus” so Gray could buy it back. However, since then the Town has done nothing, because of the complex process that must be undertaken to effect such a sale. According to the Town’s lawyer, the only way the Town can give the land back is if the Town petitions the County, and the County votes to release the land. At that point, it must be offered first to the state, then to the Town and finally to a public auction, where there is no guarantee it would go to Gray. Rather than sign such a petition, Gray instead sued the Town. However, his suit was thrown out of Norfolk County court, which ruled that the statute of limitations on his petition had lapsed in 1962. Gray has appealed that decision, stating that he will not go away until he gets his family’s land back.1
1 Andrea Estes, “Dispute Over Land-Taking Dates to ’61,” Boston Globe, Sept. 5, 2002, at Globe South 1.