Conservation Ambassador Phillip Oswald Weighs In On Recent Decision From the Third Department.

Our Partner and conservation ambassador Phillip Oswald weighs in on recent decision from the Third Department. This decision from the Third Department is a great win for conservation. The matter of Darwak vs. City of New York, involved John J. Darwak who owns approximately 403 acres of undeveloped land.  In September 2017, the City of New York was granted a conservation easement that provides the City a perpetual easement on approximately 400 acres of petitioners’ land. In exchange for the easement, petitioners received $927,040 and the City is required to pay property taxes on the portion of the land covered by the easement

In 2018 The Darwak’s petitioned the Department of environmental protection seeking approval to build a shed on the property within the easement 125 feet from a watercourse. The request was denied. The Darwak’s continued to moe for permission. however the supreme court denied the motion as the easements purpose is to “limit development on and disturbance of the property, prevent pollution and protect the City’s water supply system”

“From my perspective, it is important in two different respects. First, it is a strong precedent for strictly construing easements in favor of the grantees or holders and enforcing easements based on the terms, rather than grandiose claims about what a violator thinks is “good” for the property. Second, although it involved a municipal holder and a Article 78 review, the decision provides valuable guidance for interpreting approval requests under the reasonableness standard that still exists in many easements.”

-Phillip Oswald