CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- What's the value of a line drawn on a map? After decades of deliberation, Cambridge village trustees determined there was none.
Mayor Stephen Robertson said the village easement on a tract of land, at 12 Myrtle Ave., had been brought up every year he'd been involved in local government.
"It's been a bone of contention since I've been a kid," Robertson said at July's village board meeting. The mayor said Friday he had been told the highway department had a barn behind the property, decades ago. But nobody can recall the village ever maintaining the right of way, and 20 years ago, a lawsuit resulted when an adjacent neighbor began driving across the property in question. That lawsuit ruled the village technically owned the right-of-way, a "paper street" that exists solely on a map.
Today, the approximately 30- by 181-foot parcel, ostensibly called Pleasant Street Extension, is a section of Jayme Cooley and Jeremy Geroux's yard. The couple attended September's board meeting hoping for a resolution.
On Wednesday, following executive session, trustees voted to abandon the village's right of access, which default back to the property owner. Robertson said the decision came after trustees determined there really was "no reason for it."
Previously, the village considered selling the rights, as, legally speaking, the easement could have intrinsic value because the municipality owned those rights and there were parties who were interested.
The village asked for Cooley and Geroux to appraise the easement's value, and their hired appraiser found zero value. In July, village Attorney Tony Jordan said the topic would require a specialized appraisal, as for access for lifts, ski runs, and power lines, as such rights have "some sort of value."
But the necessary appraiser wouldn't be worth hiring because those services would cost more than the likely value of the easement in question, Jordan continued mulling at that meeting July 11.
Officials agreed then the easement held little value. "There's no need for it," said Deputy Mayor Alan Dupuis II.
"It goes nowhere," echoed Trustee Sara Kelly.
"I'd be bummed if I was paying taxes on a piece of property that wasn't really mine," said Dupuis.
But officials were skittish because of a lawsuit resulting from a 2009 Cambridge town board decision to execute a quickclaim deed on rights for a similar parcel along Brownell Road.
An ensuing lawsuit against the town, ultimately dismissed because the statute of limitations expired, called the resolution an "unconstitutional gift of town land."
In July, trustees motioned to offer the village's rights to Cooley and Geroux for $1,000, based on a similarly sized piece of land recently sold.
Cooley and Geroux counter-offered in August with $100.
On Wednesday, Sept. 5, officials agreed the access rights really were of no value, and voted 3-0 to abandon the right of way. Dupuis was absent and Kelly abstained because the issue concerned neighbors.
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