HUGH C. TAYLOR, trustee,  & others 
MARTHA'S VINEYARD LAND BANK COMMISSION.
Heard: March 8, 2016.
motion for summary judgment was heard by Alexander H. Sands,
III, J., and the remaining issues were also heard by him.
Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct
C. Tillotson for the defendant. Gordon M. Orloff for the
Jeffrey T. Angley & Nicholas P. Shapiro, for Roma III,
Ltd., amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
D. Peterson, Mark S. Furman, & Matthew S. Furman, for
Sarah A. Kent, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
Present: Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Duffly, Lenk, &
Hines, JJ. 
defendant, Martha's Vineyard Land Bank Commission, owns
and manages a nature preserve on the western edge of
Martha's Vineyard. The preserve is comprised of various
parcels of land that the defendant purchased in the 1990s. In
2010, the defendant created a hiking trail through the
preserve, which it planned to open to the public. The trail
began on a main road, crossed over the grounds of an inn
owned by the plaintiffs via a forty-foot wide easement,
proceeded from there across three parcels of the
defendant's land for whose benefit the easement was
created, and then entered a fourth parcel, also owned by the
defendant, that was not intended to benefit from the
easement. The plaintiffs filed an action in the Land Court to
prevent the defendant from using the easement as part of the
hiking trail. They argued, among other things, that it was
improper, pursuant to Murphy v. Mart
Realty of Brockton, Inc., 348 Mass. 675 (1965), for the
trail to cross over the easement and then continue onto the
fourth parcel, given that the easement was not intended to
serve that parcel. On this basis, a judge of the Land Court
granted partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs.
Following a bench trial, at which certain remaining issues
were resolved in the defendant's favor, the defendant
appealed from the grant of partial summary judgment, and we
allowed its application for direct appellate
defendant contends that the bright-line rule in
Murphy, disallowing any use of an easement to
benefit land to which the easement is not appurtenant,
is overly rigid. The defendant suggests that, instead, this
court should adopt a fact-intensive inquiry requiring
consideration whether the use of a particular easement to
benefit other parcels would increase unfairly the burden on
the easement. We conclude that the benefits of preserving the
long-standing, bright-line rule set forth in Murphy
outweigh any costs associated with its rigidity, and
therefore decline to adopt the defendant's suggestion.
Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Land Court.
Vineyard Land Bank Commission "was established in 1985
by a special act of the Legislature . . . for the purpose of
acquiring land for environmental protection, conservation,
and managed public use." It owns and manages, among
other properties, the Aquinnah Headlands Preserve, a nature
preserve on the western edge of Martha's Vineyard located
atop the Gay Head Cliffs. The preserve contains a series of
hiking trails, which are open to the public annually during
the tourism off-season, from September 15 through June 15.
early 1990s, the defendant assembled what is now the preserve
by purchasing a series of parcels on the Gay Head Cliffs.
Four of these parcels are relevant here. From south to north,
these adjacent parcels are referenced by the parties as
Ginnochio Lot l,  Vanderhoop Parcel, Ginnochio Lot 2,
and Diem Lot 5. None of the four parcels abuts the
nearest public way, Lighthouse Road, which runs to the south
of the properties. A separate parcel, however, located to the
southeast of the defendant's properties, connects
Ginnochio Lot 1 to Lighthouse Road. That parcel, owned by the
plaintiffs, is registered land known as the Inn Property. It
contains a small hotel with seven guest rooms that is open
only during the tourism season, approximately from mid-May
through Columbus Day weekend.
defendant's parcels benefit from two easements that
burden the Inn Property. Those easements, which were created
before the defendant purchased the parcels that now comprise
the preserve, provide access to and from Lighthouse Road.
Neither of the easements is appurtenant to all four of the
parcels. The first easement, a forty-foot wide road referred
to in the Land Court proceedings and by the parties here as
the Disputed Way, is appurtenant to and serves the three
southern parcels (Ginnochio Lot 1, Vanderhoop Parcel, and
Ginnochio Lot 2). The other easement, called Twenty-Foot Way,
is appurtenant to and serves Diem Lot 5, the northernmost
2010, the defendant received approval from various government
agencies to implement a "Management
Plan" that called for creating a hiking
trail on the preserve. The proposed trail would incorporate
Disputed Way and Twenty Foot Way in a single loop. The trail
would extend along the full length of Disputed Way,
"begin[ning] at Lighthouse Road, proceed[ing]
northwesterly over [the Inn] Property, then over Ginnochio
Lot 1, . . . and the Vanderhoop Parcel, " and
"terminating on Ginnochio Lot 2." From there, the
trail would run north into Diem Lot 5, and ultimately