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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
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Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Maybe the State of New York is exempt from county property taxes?


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 3:14 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

If I recall correctly, any higher government entity is exempt from taxes from a lower government entity.

The exception is if the government entity is a corporation such as National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), Hoover Dam, and (until privatized) the Alaska Railroad.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 10:27 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2050
J3a-614 wrote:
One thing that stands out in that Adirondack Daily Enterprise story is that the state claims it owns the right of way outright.



claim is not the same as "did you do your homework"


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 10:30 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 456
JimBoylan wrote:
Maybe the State of New York is exempt from county property taxes?
I don't think it matters whether the state is exempt or not.

The issue is that there are 50+ lots in Lake Clear, NY with a railroad right-of-way through them. NY State employee(s) are claiming that NY State outright owns the properties within the right-of-way and the state can build a linear park on that property.

NY State's ownership claim was documented in the May 13, 2017, Adirondack Daily Enterprise article I quoted above:
Adirondack Daily Enterprise - Rail trail sessions end with small crowd
it included this line:
Quote:
[NY State Department of Conservation spokesman David Winchell] said during the presentation that the state owns the corridor outright, other than three parcels of land at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake.

Property owners in Lake Clear disagree with NY State's position, according to the May 11, 2017 letter by John Lanahan that J3a-614 linked. The letter includes these details:
Quote:
First and foremost is the fact that the railroad is occupying and operating within a railroad right-of-way. The state does not own the land. They have a right-of-way through the properties. For a railroad. This use does not extend to a trail.
and
Quote:
The existing ROW agreement does not extend to trail use. If the state pushes this use, there will be pushback. Lawyers. Lots of money spent on lawyers. Each individual property owner will be able to bring suit. Not only that, but the existing surveys and land use in the Lake Clear area are far from settled. The state will be opening itself up as a party to disputes between neighboring property owners. There are rumors of long-standing issues that this will bring forward. None have easy or clear answers. This could lead to decades of ill will, legal battles and ongoing costs.

I assume the letter writer mentioned property taxes because he has been paying local property taxes on land that the state now claims to own outright.

Finally, it is important to note that the letter writer is not a railroad supporter -- he has created a plan for the trail that would bypass his property.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 12:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
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Quote:
I assume the letter writer mentioned property taxes because he has been paying local property taxes on land that the state now claims to own outright.


if thats the case they could demand a refund going for years back.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 1:07 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2068
Location: Northern Illinois
dinwitty wrote:
Quote:
I assume the letter writer mentioned property taxes because he has been paying local property taxes on land that the state now claims to own outright.


if thats the case they could demand a refund going for years back.


That's not the point...the property owner doesn't want to give the ROW away simply for back taxes, if the land was never purchased, he wants to be compensated for the value of the land (I'm sure what he really wants is for the state to take it's trail and quietly go away...)

The question of the state being exempt from local property tax should be easy to resolve; just look at the tax records for the years while the railroad (NYC?) still was operating it. If they paid taxes, they must have owned it outright. If not, they likely only have an easement for specific purpose, in this case, to operate a railroad, but not a trail.

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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 1:35 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 456
A May 16, 2017 editorial in the Utica, NY Observer-Dispatch newspaper:
Quote:
The decision by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to forge ahead with plans to tear up 34 miles of railroad track between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid despite a pending lawsuit smacks of skullduggery. The arrogance is shameful.

Somebody should put a stop to it before this state makes an irrevocable mistake.

That mistake would virtually abort the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a one-of-a-kind attraction that once destroyed will never be replaced.

Link t the rest of the editorial:
OUR VIEW: Ripping up ADK rail would be a tragedy


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 9:23 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 2:35 pm
Posts: 310
Location: NJ
Couple of things on the right of way issue and taxes.

1) NY State would not pay annual property taxes to a local government for a state owned right of way. Railroad or otherwise.

2) Years ago my understanding in NY State was that the privately held railroads paid property taxes to the State and the State would then send the money to the municipalities. This was an issue during the breakup of Conrail as I remember CSX was paying such a high rate for property taxes in NY State that it was more than they paid in many other states combined. They sued around 2001 and the tax rate was changed.

3) In all likelihood the original property owner was compensated for the railroad right of way at the time it was obtained. The properties in the Adirondacks may have changed hands or been subdivided since that time, but the original agreement would still be in place.

4) From my experience in NJ with roadway rights of way on very old roadways the right of way descriptions can be a mess. Some of the descriptions are from tree stumps, to rocks in a field. The distances always have the "more or less" statement after them.

5) None of the issues on the Adirondack Railroad would preclude the State from simply condemning the sections of right of way that have questionable ownership or reversionary clauses. Not to mention the railroad has been in place for 100 years with continued maintenance of track and structures.

6) I wonder if the state could possibly claim squatters rights?

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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 10:42 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

Quote:
4) From my experience in NJ with roadway rights of way on very old roadways the right of way descriptions can be a mess. Some of the descriptions are from tree stumps, to rocks in a field. The distances always have the "more or less" statement after them.


I agree. I recall one subdivision we were working on in the 1970s was to the "Cherokee Indian Treat Line of 1807" or something close to it.

Quote:
5) None of the issues on the Adirondack Railroad would preclude the State from simply condemning the sections of right of way that have questionable ownership or reversionary clauses. Not to mention the railroad has been in place for 100 years with continued maintenance of track and structures.


Condemning section of land (Eminent Domain) for the greater public good (IIRC) was generated from land holders wanting to hold up railroads for access to land holders land at exorbitant prices. The key words, I think, are greater public good.

Is scrapping a potentially working railroad line and replacing it with a public use trail that only a few may use or even have access to a greater public good action?

Just one possible view.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 11:54 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2068
Location: Northern Illinois
cjvrr wrote:

6) I wonder if the state could possibly claim squatters rights?


No. The proper term for "squatter's Rights" is adverse possession. The NYC didn't just sneak a railroad across these landowner's land, there was some sort of agreement in place to allow a railroad. The state inherited that agreement. The question is what did the agreement allow? Many of these were simply easements for specific purpose, same as the power company writes to get their power lines into a subdivision. That doesn't mean the powco can turn their ROW into a trail across your yard; that's not the purpose the easement was granted for. Same applies here.

The problem is, most land sale contracts have a clause that binds the new owner to any existing easements, without specifically naming them. After 120 years or so, they may be difficult to find. They should be recorded like a deed, but a lot of courthouses have burned down over the years, and records lost.

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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 2:25 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 456
cjvrr wrote:
5) None of the issues on the Adirondack Railroad would preclude the State from simply condemning the sections of right of way that have questionable ownership or reversionary clauses.

cjvrr, you may be overlooking the fact that the railroad is in the Adirondack Park (wikipedia) and so its right-of-way crosses inholdings[wikipedia]. I don't think there is such a thing as a simple condemnation when it comes to inholdings!


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 4:12 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 2:35 pm
Posts: 310
Location: NJ
Chris,

Not sure why it would make a difference. You are talking about privately held land in the middle of a state owned park. That would give the State even more ammunition to take over the railroad right of way crossing privately held parcels and folding the right of way into the state owned park.

I work on projects for an agency in NJ that regularly condemns private property for public use. It is not a difficult process. At any one time we have more than a dozen properties under partial or full acquisition either through active discussion with the owner or through eminent domain. The eminent domain (condemnation) cases are actually quicker.

For the record I don't agree with the way the railroad is being treated at all. And I do think the destruction of the railroad is being advocated by people that don't want the railroad or the trail. I am not looking to be an adversary here. Just trying to explain that the ownership issues will delay the project but are most likely not going to be a killer for the project.


Chris Webster wrote:
cjvrr wrote:
5) None of the issues on the Adirondack Railroad would preclude the State from simply condemning the sections of right of way that have questionable ownership or reversionary clauses.

cjvrr, you may be overlooking the fact that the railroad is in the Adirondack Park (wikipedia) and so its right-of-way crosses inholdings[wikipedia]. I don't think there is such a thing as a simple condemnation when it comes to inholdings!

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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 6:01 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 456
An article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise about the latest episode of WLIW PBS's "Treasures of New York” program:
Quote:
SARANAC LAKE — A new public television documentary presents the Adirondack rail-trail debate in light of a rails-to-trails trend that is booming statewide.

New York City’s WLIW PBS station on Thursday broadcast “Rails-to-Trails,” the latest entry in its irregular “Treasures of New York” series. The video was posted online Sunday for streaming at www.wliw.org/programs/treasures-of-new-york/rails-to-trails-uztsz8.

Eight of the program’s 52 minutes are devoted to the Adirondack debate over whether to convert part of a railroad into a trail for bicycling, walking and snowmobiling. The Adirondack portion of the show starts at the 33:00-minute mark and ends at 41:00.

That part begins with an interview with Enterprise Managing Editor Peter Crowley, conducted last year, about how this is the most divisive issue he’s seen during his time at the newspaper. At one point he noted that the Enterprise had published 626 letters to the editor and op-eds on this topic between 2008 and the time of the interview in 2016.

The program also includes six other interviews balanced between both sides of the argument: railroad supporters Carla Sternberg, a former Saranac Lake shop owner, retired Adirondack Park Agency staffer Steve Erman and Steven Engelhart, head of Adirondack Architectural Heritage; as well as trail backers Jim McCulley and Dick Beamish of Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates and John Brockway, who owns Charlie’s Inn in Lake Clear.
Link to the full article:
Adirondacks are anomaly in ‘Rails-to-Trails’ doc - NYC PBS station airs program on many successful conversions, one major controversy


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 9:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2050
Stop the baloney and build a Rail/Trail and get the best of both. If your going to throw money around you do exactly that.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 9:38 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 678
Location: Warren, PA
It varies by railroad, but the 1917-era ICC valuation maps usually do a pretty good job of documenting parcels, deeds, etc. to survey quality. Remember there were two sets, one to the national archives, one to the railroad. Railroad set gets updated and passed along to new owners over time, national archives set was frozen in time and useful for deed tracing. Probably about 75% of the ones I've seen have deed information including county deed book and page recorded right on them. Just beware of track relocations as usually the survey reference is original track centerline and sometimes that track is now long gone.

New York is actually one of the better states for courthouse records as railroads had taxed real estate for generations and still does on the Class 1's. If you're putting out tax bills your records tend to be updated, well, mostly. That's also why NY has probably the highest mileage of county or state-owned ROW to keep marginal lines intact via IDA's or other public use methodology. Those do not pay property tax, but still, for the most part, property tax records are in fair shape going back in history, and the parcel maps at the courthouse level vary in quality but most are good.

By contrast, Pennsylvania doesn't tax railroad ROW (considered as utilities) and the local tax records are non-existent; the only thing to go on is the val maps. You're just as likely to still see "Pennsylvania Railroad" on a county parcel map as not, nobody cares. If you've got a deed page/cross reference you can still track it.

Deed language however, is all over the map on old documents and has been hotly contested on whether or not a 'railroad deed' with a payment was fee-simple ownership or an easement specific to railroad occupation. State courts have to sort that one out, it's even baffled the STB on valuation dockets.

And for the record, I've finally seen original ICC valuation maps that show the deed reference as 'adverse possession by the railroad', no more information. Not NY state, but it has happened, pretty rare.

Bottom line? Expensive and slow. Which is how this has dragged so long to sort out and even the state of NY appears to be struggling. As long as you have continued rail use, you can get by with a quit-claim deed and kick the can down the road. Pull the rail, and interesting things can happen if a property owner really picks a fight.


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