[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Historic/Scenic Roads
Article II Highways by Use (Highway Law § 189)
[Adopted 11-16-2010 by L.L. No. 16-2010]
The attractive visual character of the Town of Cortlandt is in significant measure attributable to the views from along its public roadways. For that reason, as well as for purposes of historic/scenic preservation and protection of property values, the Town of Cortlandt desires to preserve the historic/scenic, cultural and natural resources, including stone walls, vegetation and scenic vistas, which are located along, or visible from its historic/scenic roadways.
Specifically the Town Board finds:
The natural scenic character along the historic/scenic roadways is a critical element of the unique attractiveness and heritage of the Town of Cortlandt, the preservation of which enriches and benefits both residents and visitors.
Cortlandt's historic/scenic roads are, for the most part, historic/scenic traditional routes which are bordered with stone walls, mature trees, woodlands, meadows, water bodies, scenic vistas and historic/scenic structures, all of which contribute to the overall scenic, historic/scenic and semi rural character of the Town.
The preservation of these features, consistent with the protection of private property rights, can best be achieved by requiring Planning Board consideration with respect to any applications in such areas.
In furtherance of the above stated legislative intent, the Town Board specifically identifies the following historic/scenic roads from the report known as "Survey & Assessment of Historic Roads" conducted by Larson, Fisher Associates completed in January 2007, and the Planning Board shall consider impacts to these historic/scenic roads during the Planning Board review process. The identified roads are:
With respect to any subdivisions or site development plan approval before the Planning Board, the Planning Board shall consider and determine that any construction or site alteration approved will be compatible with the objectives of the Master Plan with respect to historic/scenic roads.
With respect to any application pending before the Planning Board, either for subdivision or site development plan approval; the Planning Board is encouraged, for the purpose of preserving the physical features, (both natural and man-made) and scenic vistas along such roads, to consider and to seek to preserve the character of the roadscapes. In making its determination, the Planning Board shall take into consideration the following criteria:
Location: the place where the historic property was constructed or a historical event occurred. This may include the horizontal and vertical alignment of a roadway as influenced by the geographical character of the area (ridges, creeks, etc.).
Design: the elements that combine to create the form, plan, space structure and style of a road that may include engineering details and characteristics.
Setting: the physical setting and its importance to the roadway.
Materials: the physical materials with which the roadway and associated structures were constructed.
Workmanship: the craftsmanship of the people or culture that was responsible for the roadway's construction at a given period in history or prehistory.
Feeling: the aesthetic expression and/or historic character of any particular time still in evidence as one travels along the roadway.
Association: the direct link between an important historic event or historical person and the roadway.
The Planning Board, in granting subdivision and site development plan approval along historic roads, as identified herein, shall determine that the construction or site alteration approved will be compatible with the legislative intent of this article.
[Adopted 11-16-2010 by L.L. No. 19-2010]
Since the founding of the Town of Cortlandt in 1788, various highways have been created and constructed. Many of the original highways began as dirt paths over which the public traversed. In the 1800s, the New York State Legislature established a provision in Highway Law, which has been carried forward and is now contained in § 189 of the New York State Highway Law, "Highways by Use."
The Legislature has determined that any highway that has been utilized by the public for a period of 10 years or more and over which the local authority has exercised some degree of control in the form of maintenance, that that highway shall be deemed a highway by use under the provisions of § 189 of the Highway Law. Once determined to be a § 189 Highway, the right of the public to traverse the area is made permanent. The local municipality acquires a surface easement for the length and width of the existing highway, which has been utilized in the manner set forth above.
At certain times over the past 30 years, the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt has determined by resolution certain highways to be § 189 Highways. Approximately one year ago, the Town Board commissioned a staff study of all the remaining highways in the Town that were not formally dedicated Town highways, not previously determined to be § 189 Highways, but upon which the Town preformed any maintenance services. The staff presented their year-long study to the Town Board which determined approximately 41 highways currently existing in the Town receive Town maintenance services but have not yet been determined to be § 189 Highways. The staff also determined that these 41 highways met the criteria to be declared a § 189 Highway.
It is with the purpose in mind of clarifying the rights, obligations and duties of all owners of property and of the Town with respect to highways, which have been acquired by use, that Town Board enacts this article.
In accordance with the authority vested in the Town Board by the State Legislature, the Town Board shall, by resolution, determine those highways, which meet the criteria for § 189 Highway. These highways shall have been used by the public for a period of 10 years or longer and the Town shall have performed certain maintenance thereof in the form of patching or plowing during a period of at least 10 years.
On any highway determined to be a § 189 Highway, the public shall have the right to traverse said highway as if it were constructed and laid out as a dedicated public highway. The rights of access shall include the right to drive an automobile or bike on it, traverse it on foot and conduct any other lawful activity on the highway as if it were a fully dedicated Town highway. The Town shall have been deemed to have acquired a surface easement for said highway and appurtenances for the width and the length of the highway as determined by the Town Board upon the adoption of a resolution declaring said highway to be a § 189 Highway.
Once a highway has been determined to be a § 189 Highway, the Town shall continue to keep the existing traveled way for the width and the length, as determined by the Town over which a surface easement has been acquired, in a condition for the public to be able to access and traverse said highway and for emergency service access. Nothing herein shall obligate the Town to expend any funds to widen the road or to acquire any subsurface easements to allow any drainage facilities to be installed or replaced. If determined by the Town Board to be necessary, said improvements shall be performed in accordance with the provisions of law. Nothing herein shall require the Town to pave or otherwise improve the existing surface of the § 189 Highway to any level beyond keeping it open in order to allow safe passage and emergency service access.
The Town Board shall, following the affective date of this article, adopt a resolution formally certifying all § 189 Highways within the Town of Cortlandt. A list shall contain an inventory of all highways previously determined to be § 189 Highways updating their names and dimensions thereon and shall also contain the additional 41 highways, which have been determined by the study commissioned by the Town Board to be § 189 Highways but which have not yet been formally declared.
In accordance with the provisions of the State Constitution and state laws it is hereby declared to be illegal within the Town of Cortlandt for any municipal official to provide services to a private road, lane or driveway except in times of a state of emergency duly declared by the appropriate executive official for the needs of the public's health, welfare and safety. It is hereby declared to be the intent of this article that no further roads by accepted as § 189 Highways within the Town of Cortlandt except as provided for herein.
This article shall take effect immediately upon its filing with the Secretary of State of the State of New York, except that no service now provided will be curtailed or diminished for a period of 90 days after its adoption.