Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Property: Single Family/Lakefront property
Backround Info: Purchased a house on the lake,a corner property. The driveway (since the 1940's) enters from a side-street (owned by Association; not a municipality). My plan is to knock the house down & rebuild. I've researched this & understand I lose "grandfather" rights in some areas, such as Taxes, etc. Currently, however, there is (been since '40's) a 4' high chain link fence & a 3' high brick wall built on a strip of land owned by the Association. Both fences (together) extend the full length of my property, 10' outside my boundary line were erected by previous homeowner & used since the house was built (1940's) by homeowner as back yard, side & entrance to driveway. When purchased, unfortunately I wasn't aware that the 10 ft strip of land was not our property, only when we received the survey did this come to our attention. I wrote & asked to purchase the small strip, the Association declined. They plan on building a boat rack (though they have boat yards). Once we knock the house down I don't know if we lose Grandfather rights (and/or if we have any) Adverse Possession and/or Easement by Prescription rights. We want to build a new house; keep the driveway entrance on the side street and erect a new wall and/or fence. The house will be within the footprint of the old house, and conform to zoning requirements. We want to keep the driveway entrance on the side street (as it's been since '40s) but would like to move the entrance slightly from the position it is now in which will necessitate removing a tree or two which is on the 10 ft strip of land in question owned by the Association. My fear is once we knock down the wall or fence or change the location of the garage’s entrance do we lose rights to prescriptive easement or adverse possession?
QUESTION: 1). The fence & brick wall and use of driveway having existed since property was first built upon in mid 1940's, can we take by Adverse possession and/or at a min. have the previous homeowners created an easement by prescription so that we can use the driveway entrance as it exists or as it newly proposed to be? 2). IF WE REMOVE ANY WALLS OR FENCES THAT HAVE STOOD THERE SINCE PROPERTY BUILT IN '40'S WILL WE LOSE ANY RIGHTS TO ADV. POSSESSION & PRESCRIPTIVE EASEMENT & 3). WHAT ARE OUR RIGHTS?
I fully understand any advice I receive in this forum is just general, to give me some very much needed direction! any help is much appreciated. Thank you!