N.H. Supreme Court Upholds Rye Beach Public Access Opposed by Wentworth's Owner
The state’s highest court has affirmed the public’s access to a beach in Rye across land owned by the Wentworth by the Sea Country Club, but the court overturned a court order that would have forced the club’s owner owner, Bill Binnie, to pay the plaintiffs legal fees.
The decision is the final turn in a legal fight that started in 2012, when Wentworth by the sea owner Bill Binnie used boulders bushes and a fence to blocked public access to Little Harbor Beach via Sanders Poynt.
Sanders Poynt was known as a way to get to little Harbor Beach. It was posted by the town since 1995, and beachgoers had parked cars there since the 1950s.
After Binnie blocked public access Rye resident Robert Jesurum sued. He argued that the public held what amounted to an easement over Sanders Poynt.
In 2015, a trial court agreed, and defined that easement as 4 parking spaces, usable from dawn to dusk. The court also said the public could walk to the beach carrying “canoes, kayaks or other vessels.”The lower court also awarded Jesurum legal fees, because his action gave the public “substantial benefit.”
The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court Judge that Jesurum’s served the public, but overturned its award legal fees on the grounds that Bill Binnie was defending his property rights in good faith.