From the Seasonally Occupied Territories has been covering Ben Ramsey and Nisa Counter’s fight to defend their land against the claim of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation (SMF), a local conservation group. Apart from Facebook, it’s the only public source of accurate information about Ben and Nisa’s side of the story. Scroll down to find links to earlier posts in the saga.
After refusing to negotiate or mediate their differences, SMF sued Ben and Nisa in Massachusetts Land Court. The first hearing, on August 18, did not go the way SMF expected, even though they went in with two lawyers and Ben and Nisa represented themselves. It became clear, though, that when the battlefield is a courtroom, legal representation is a good idea. On September 1, Ben and Nisa released the following statement:
With overwhelming community support for our position, we have decided to continue the legal defense of our property on Blue Barque Rd.
If you have been reading the papers it would be understandable for you to think that we are trying to steal land from Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.
The truth, however, is just the opposite. We bought a parcel of land that has been owned and used by the Hancock family since 1828.
SMF was given a deed to a neighboring parcel in 1973, a parcel with no defined boundaries–boundaries which they never made any effort to determine.
Now we are defendants in a lawsuit, brought by Sheriff’s Meadow, supported by donor money, which is attempting to overwhelm us with money and clout.
Having right on our side is unfortunately insufficient. While we defended ourselves in Land Court at the first hearing, we feel strongly that without a lawyer who understands the system and can present our facts and make our arguments we will be swept aside.
If we are able to establish an adequate legal defense fund, we can be assured that we can maintain a proper defense for the long haul.
With a successful fund-raising effort, we believe that we will prevail in the defense of our land. If the lawsuit concludes with funds remaining on hand we would like either to return the balance pro rata or, at the donor’s preference, donate any remaining funds to a worthy affordable housing initiative.
Ben Ramsey and Nisa Counter
Donations should be made out to the Quenames Woods Fund and sent to P.O. Box 531, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. Electronic transfers may be made to Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, Edgartown, MA, routing no. 211372925, account no. 21973.
The story thus far . . .