The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Monday, October 01, 2007


See previous posts to learn more about our previous posts.

An issue raised by more than a few people runs as follows:

Can Troy divide the City Hall property, keep a parcel of land adjacent to the river so as not to run afoul of General City Law 20 (prohibiting the sale of waterfront property absent State approval).

That question may hinge upon the language found in the instruments conveying the land to the City of Troy. If the city did acquire the land for a public use (for example, use as a city hall), courts have held:

"that a municipality, without specific legislative sanction, may not permit property acquired or held by it for public use to be wholly or partly diverted to a possession or use exclusively private. Lake George S.B. Co. v. Blais, 30 N.Y.2d 48; People ex rel. Swan v. Doxsee, 136 App. Div. 400, 403, affd.198 N. Y. 605; Meriwether v. Garrett, 102 U.S. 472, 513; 3 Op. St. Comp., 1947, p. 178.

In Lake George S.B. Co. v. Blais, 30 N.Y.2d 48, the village leased only 110 ft of 1000 ft of lake frontage to a private concern for private use.
"....The present lease to Marine Industries, for that corporation's private pursuit of profit, clearly diverted part of this public trust to exclusively private purposes, without legislative sanction. It matters not that Marine Industries leased only 110 feet of the more than 1,000 feet of public lake frontage, since the whole grant was held for the public use, not simply a part of it. "Sound public policy forbids that there should be any power to divert a part thereof to a private use, for, once such power being assumed, the dangers which may follow either from favoritism or ill-judgment may speedily hamper or practically destroy the fundamental purpose of the public use." ( People ex rel. Swan v. Doxsee, supra, at p. 406.)"

Finally, the Court of Appeals notes:

While it is true that a municipality may hold property either in its corporate capacity as an ordinary proprietor or solely for the public use, the determination should not be made by the municipality.

This is just another issue that needs to be addressed at the next public hearing (more hearings have been promised).

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