Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area board members have planted signs on the north and south ends of the intertidal zone granted several months ago in a conservation easement to local advocacy group Upstream Watch.

The Oct. 19 event drew a crowd of over 70 people, according to Friends of Harriet secretary Andrew Stevenson. People weren’t able to walk the full 12-acre area because the tide was rising, but it can be walked in its entirety at low tide.

Board members and property owners Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace placed the intertidal zone in the conservation easement to respect Harriet L. Hartley’s wishes to keep the area development-free. Their hope is that people will use it for leisurely strolls and the scenic beauty.

Hartley and her husband bought the house and land in front of the intertidal zone in 1924 as a summer home. She was one of only a few female pediatric doctors at that time.

Before her death in 1950, she sold the land in several parcels, using the high tide mark as the property boundary. She left the whole intertidal zone attached to Mabee and Grace’s property deed at the conservation area’s southern end, according to historic deeds Paul Bernacki and Attorney Kim Ervin Tucker approached them with.

Nordic Aquafarms, a large fish farm being proposed beside the Little River, wants to run a discharge pipe through the intertidal zone in front of Richard and Janet Eckrote’s property. Mabee and Grace claim to own the intertidal zone in front of the Eckrotes’ home.

Hartley wrote a covenant in all property deeds that prevents the land from being used for development purposes, according to other deeds the fish farm opponents have uncovered.

Mabee and Grace claim Nordic is using a slanderous title — a false statement disparaging a property title — to acquire intertidal zone access in front of the Eckrotes’ property. The most recent deed claims the Eckrotes’ property line is at “said bay,” which is interpreted as low tide.

Mabee and Grace have filed a lawsuit against the Eckrotes and Nordic about the allegedly slanderous title based on the historic deeds. They said that all other deeds before the Eckrotes’ most recent one say “high tide.”

The lawsuit is still being processed and the conservation area’s fate is unknown. Mabee and Grace watched their children and grandchildren play in the bay and said they hope that Hartley’s vision for the area will be protected so people can enjoy it.

 

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