Bolton Landing, NY. A...
Bolton Landing, NY. A neighborhood of 6 families, no Association
OR Road Agreement for a DIRT ROAD. Two neighbors
are landlocked & have deeded right-of-ways over 4 (Road OWNERS) Neighbors' properties. For years, 1 (landlocked) neighbor ("N1"), who has a right-of-way, snowplowed the shared road & all private driveways w/out asking for $. (Length of time he was "allowed" to plow - setting a precedence - is not an issue here...). Summers, tho', he'd RAKE & DRAG (a chain "mat") road & over years destroyed (removed) the crown in middle of road & w/out crown, rain/mud would not fall to sides/trenches - it then flowed straight down hilly road, gainng speed thus causing massive erosion below into ALL road Owners' properties. There was a falling out w/ "Snowplower" N1 & another road OWNER/Neighbor ("N2"). N2 then hired a COMPETANT private plower to do entire road/driveways & advised N1 to not plow anymore because of damage to road (N1 refused to pay for his share & chose to plow his own driveway. The other five DID share the cost.). My hubby & I ("N3") bought our property after that & shared in cost of private plower. N1, however, CONTINUED to snowplow road (!), causing damage to MY property (i.e., running down small trees, create deep ruts from plow being too low, etc. on my property) as well as contining damage to road. N2, N3, & N4 (who is the other landlocked right-of-way neighbor) met w/N1 EXPLICITLY telling him to NOT plow/rake/drag road & keep off our properties as we had a snowplower & if he had an issue w/ our plower to MERELY call 1 of us & we would have the competant plower come back. N1 continued to plow... still w/out paying. Road Owners discovered, by NY court precedence, Right-of-Wayers MUST share in COST of maintenance
and repair of road. Road Owners' attorney sent N1 a Cease & Desist, we sued in Small Claims Court for 2 back years' payment - we won, & he CONTINUED to plow. Due to damage, Road Owners had road repaired, ($20K) sending all neighbors invoice CLEARLY stating that if anyone felt road needed more plowing or salt, etc., to now call plower directly - N1 didn't pay... yes, & CONTINUED TO PLOW. Last year we sued him in Supreme Court, putting a lien on his house, demanded payment for repairs & to STOP PLOWING. We went to court a few wks ago where JUDGE privately said to both attorneys, "RESOLVE THIS TODAY among yourselves or we go to trial." N1 agreed to pay back his share of repairs, & we agreed to drop lien, BUT HE STILL WANTED TO BE ABLE TO PLOW (in case an emergency MIGHT occur and build-up of snow would preclude him OF THE POSSIBILITY he would not be able to get down the shared road otherwise.) He then ADDED, as a counter, that he ALSO wants all neighbors to drop the right-of-way we have over HIS property (to a stream) to which we didn't even KNOW we had - nor had ever taken advantage. (I am currently coordinating a PARADE...ha!) At an attempt to resolve suit, we countered "No plowing and we'll give you back the Right-of-way." Our attorney returned to say, N1 refused, we're going to trial. Here's the rub & your opinion is needed: 1) Our private rd is THE FIRST road OF ALL HIS CLIENTS to be plowed as the (competant) plower is also the bus driver who picks up N1's grandchildren at the bottom of our road!; 2) Same plower advised that he has NEVER received a phone call from N1; 3) Plower also advised that in his 20+ yrs of experience, only ONE neighbor of another neighborhood EVER wanted to still plow their shared road; 4) Rd owners will have burden of proof of N1 causing damages
(Depositions/attorney fees, etc.); 5) Our attorney has indicated that SUPPOSEDLY N1 DOES have a RIGHT to "maintain" the road (REALLY??!!) and judge COULD rule in HIS favor; 6) Judge has a BROTHER, w/whom he gets along WELL, who is a judge in our town & our town IS very political (N1 was Fire Chief for 10 yrs., took N2 to court for HARASSMENT charges - our town ACCEPTED case & County court dropped case as being frivolous); 6) We have considered trying to offer a compromise to N1: Snow has to be at least 6", if not plowed or "acceptable," he will HAVE call plower 1st, get a response & allow plower 1 hr to arrive (If we offer this compromise & accepted, Plower has already agreed to keep ALL voicemails/time & if he sees any damage from N1 to contact us - ALL of us, except N1 are away in winter - I've thought of mounting security cameras). All this "in case an emergency MIGHT happen AT ANY MOMENT." (Neither he nor his family have health issues of which we are aware.). We will agree to allow him to plow 2X a month. (We have a feeling he would not accept this - but hey... we would have shown on our part that WE tried to come to a compromise/solution - it would be N1 who is being so belligerent & wanting it ALL.). The 2 attorneys feel this is REALLY a case of bad blood between 2 neighbors. Based on the above, what would YOU advise your clients to do??? What do you think our chances are?THANK YOU!!