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.

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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