Elizabeth L. Snow (f/k/a Elizabeth S. Bell), Mark S. Campitella, Chrissie E. Campitella, Henry D. Gehlken, Sr., Vivian S. Gehlken, Kenneth W. Kelly and Anita B. Kelly, Stephen F. Linder, Sr., Jackie Bower Linder, and Kathryn A. McDaniel, Appellants,
Judson P. Smith, Christy Brabham Bell, Charles S. Coleman, Jr., J. Thomas Coleman, Jacob C. Coleman, Valiska C. Freeman, George Arthur Stoudenmire, George Arthur Stoudenmire as trustee for the benefit of William E. Stoudenmire, Linda B. Stoudenmire, Stacey S. Dershaw f/k/a Stacy Mitchell Stoudenmire and Laura Brittany Stoudenmire, and Trust " B" Created By U/W Everett L. Stoudenmire and Valiska F. Coleman, Respondents
September 16, 2015.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
From Lexington County James O. Spence, Master-in-Equity.
Appellate Case No. 2013-002727.
Bailey Smith, of Smith Law Firm, PA, of Mount Pleasant, for
Clayton Walker, Jr. and Thomas E. Andrews, III, both of
Walker & Reibold, LLC, of Columbia, for Respondents.
J. FEW, C.J., and LOCKEMY, J., concur.
this easement action, a group of homeowners contend the
master-in-equity erred in finding (1) their easement was
limited to ingress and egress and (2) the restrictive
covenants do not apply to the Lake Access Lot. We affirm in
part, reverse in part, and remand.
S. Coleman, Sr. and E.L. Stoudenmire (Developers) developed
Hilton Place subdivision in 1983. The Restrictions were filed
on October 12, 1983. The Restrictions stated, " No lot
or property conveyed hereunder shall be used for any other
than private residential purposes of one family, except by
and with written consent and approval of Grantors."
Additionally, they stated, " No building, barn,
outbuilding, fence, garage or structure of any kind or
alterations or additions thereto shall be erected, placed or
made on any lot hereby conveyed; no residence containing less
than 1,200 square feet of living space shall be erected on
any lot . . . ." The Restrictions also provided any lot
or property conveyed could only be used for " private
residential purposes of one family, except by and with
written consent and approval of the Grantors." The
Restrictions banned any " noxious or offensive
activity" on the lots and anything that " becomes
an annoyance or nuisance to the neighborhood." They
likewise barred any " condition or situation" on
any of the lots that was " a nuisance or otherwise
detract[ed] from the desirability of the neighborhood as a
residential section." Further, the Restrictions provided
" [t]hese covenants, conditions and restrictions are for
the benefit of the Grantors who may change or modify the
terms contained herein at any time." The Restrictions
also stated they were " imposed upon all those lots
shown on a plat . . . dated September 19, 1983" (1983
Plat). The 1983 Plat shows several numbered lots and a lot
with no number described as " Lake Access" (Lake
Access Lot). The Developers never formed a homeowners'
association although a group of homeowners attempted to form
one at one point.
Elizabeth Snow (f/k/a Elizabeth S. Bell) bought her lot in
1990, the deed stated, " Also conveyed her[e]with is an
easement for the use and enjoyment by the lot owner and the
lot owner[']s immediate family to the Lake Access Lot
shown on the recorded subdivision lot, said easement to be
appurtenant to the land her[e]in conveyed."
her purchase contract stated, " Lake Access Lot is
available for purchaser's use at time of closing."
Henry D. Gehlken, Sr. and Vivian Gehlken's deed stated
the conveyance included " a non-exclusive access to the
water of Lake Murray through the lake access as shown on [the
1983 P]lat[,] which shall run with the land." Other
homeowners' deeds make no mention of lake or water access
but do indicate they are subject to all easements of record.
Confirmatory Amendment to the Restrictions was filed on
February 5, 1999. It indicated the Restrictions only applied
to the numbered lots. It also stated, " Nothing
contained herein shall be construed to impose any covenants,
conditions or restrictions on any other property shown on the
aforesaid plat." The Amendment further provided, "
In the event this amendment conflicts with any other
provisions of the Restrictions . . . this amendment shall
supersede and govern."
2010, the heirs of the Developers deeded the Lake
Access Lot to Judson P. Smith and Christy Brabham Bell (n/k/a
Jennifer Christy Brabham) for $25,000. Smith and Bell built a
dock, gazebo, fire pit, deck, and storage building containing
a toilet on the Lot. They also widened and
lengthened the boat ramp.
homeowners brought suit against Smith and Bell as
well as the Heirs (collectively, Respondents) for declaratory
judgments and breach of covenants. They also sought as to the
Heirs to set aside the conveyance of the Lake Access Lot due
to fraud, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty.
trial, Snow testified she interpreted her sales contract and
deed as allowing her to use the entire Lake Access Lot at any
time. Snow believed the outhouse on the Lake Access Lot
negatively affected her property value because " it is
a bathroom outside." She thought the outhouse diminished
the value of her property by $25,000. She acknowledged the
Lake Access Lot now being maintained instead of overgrown as
it previously had been helped her property value. However,
she stated her home value had decreased $19,000 since she
refinanced her home in 2006.
owner, Stephen Linder, testified the outhouse decreased his
property value by $10,000 to $25,000. He believed it was
" a detriment to the neighborhood" " [b]ecause
it's an outhouse where people go to the bathroom
outside." Linder further indicated he could hear noise
when Smith and Bell occasionally had parties on the Lot.
Ann McDaniel, also a homeowner, testified once when she
believed Smith and Bell were having a party, she had noticed
an odor coming from the Lake Access Lot that smelled like an
outhouse. She believed her property value had decreased by at
least $20,000. She stated she had arrived at that figure
" I guess ...