NY court rules against Bayville in road dispute

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New York’s highest court ruled Wednesday that the Village of Bayville doesn’t own a disputed dirt path known locally as “Travelled Way.”

In a 7-0 decision, the state Court of Appeals ruled against the village in a long-running argument over whether it had the right to do drainage work under the road.

According to court documents, the controversy began in 2004 when Bayville applied for a state permit to improve drainage and treat stormwater runoff in the neighborhood, including installing drainage pipes and a leaching pool under the property of Ronald and Margaret Marchand.

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The Marchands objected but Bayville said it didn’t need their consent because the path had effectively become a village street. Bayville cited a statute that makes any path “used by the public as a street for 10 or more years continuously” a village street.

The Marchands sued, saying that providing services isn’t sufficient. They said the village must regularly maintain and repair a road for at least 10 years before it becomes village property.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the Marchands — reversing rulings by two lower courts.

“We hold that a private road cannot be a public street .?.?. if the street is not maintained and repaired by the village,” Judge Robert S. Smith wrote for the court. “The village acknowledges that it has not maintained or repaired the road; to the extent that that has been done, it has been done by the Marchands and their predecessors as owners of the property.”

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