In Majestic Oaks Home Owners Association, Inc. v. Majestic Oaks Farms, Inc., the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that an amendment to a subdivision declaration could not cancel an easement without the easement holder’s consent. Although this case was decided in Kentucky, and it is not binding in Washington, it could be an indication of how a Washington court would decide a similar issue.
This case involved a farm development that included four residential lots called the Equestrian Estates. The estates were governed by the Majestic Oaks Home Owners Association, Inc., and the fifth section of the property was kept by the developer, Majestic Oak Farms, Inc. The developer planned to sell to the O’Briens a tract of section 5 that included an access road. If the buyers closed the access road, the only access to section 5 would be through the Equestrian Estates’ private road.
The association filed a lawsuit against the developer and the O’Briens to block the sale, require the developer to keep a permanent easement over the access road, stop the use of the estates’ private road for nonresidential use, and require the developer to contribute yearly fees to the association.
In the association’s declaration, the developer had reserved an access easement through the estates for as long as the developer owned a lot in the estates. However, the association argued that the developer’s easement was cancelled when that language was removed from the amended declaration.
The trial court held that the sale could go through, and the developer did still have the access easement through the estates. The association appealed, and the appeals court agreed with the trial court. The appeals court ruled that the owner of the property burdened by the easement could not change or cancel the easement without the consent of the easement holder. Since the developer did not consent and still owned lots in the estates, it had an easement over the estates’ road.