August 2, 2017

The Appellate Division, Second Department has upheld a contested dredging permit issued by the Town of Southold, in Perry v. PABQPR Trust, 2017 NY Slip Op 05955 (2017).  The decision addresses the question of whether a board can issue a permit to an applicant whose title to the land in question is challenged by another.  In this case, the town’s Board of Trustees heard conflicting evidence as to the applicant’s title to the underwater lands that were the subject of the dredging permit application, so the board issued a permit but did not make any determination as to the question of title.  On appeal, the neighbor who claimed title to the underwater lands argued that the board’s decision should have been overturned because the applicant allegedly did not own the lands in question.  The Appellate Division disagreed.  The court noted that it was undisputed that the board had “no authority to resolve the issue of ownership of the land” in question, but since the applicant had presented proof of ownership, the court held that the board “was within its authority to grant the permit to the ostensible owner…, without making any further determination as to who owned the area to be dredged.”