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Mar 27, 2012 4:55 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Ruling On Georgica Beach Goes In Macklowes' Favor

Mar 27, 2012 5:10 PM

A State Supreme Court justice has ruled in favor of Lloyd and Barbara Macklowe’s claim to property at Georgica Beach that the East Hampton Town Trustees had claimed on behalf of the public.

In a March 2 decision, New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas F. Whelan ruled that the Macklowes’ property extends as far toward the ocean as the line of beach grass, as they had claimed. The Trustees had challenged the legitimacy of an “ambulatory” natural feature such as beach grass in defining the boundaries of the disputed property.

When the Macklowes purchased their land on West End Road in East Hampton Village in 1992, Ms. Macklowe walked the property and found that the line of beach grass, which had been used to define the southern property line, was between 141 and 144 feet farther south than a recently completed survey had indicated.

In 2008 the Macklowes sued for a determination of the boundary line between their property and that, to the south, of the Trustees, as well as for the right to use the disputed portion of the beach. A civil trial was held in Riverhead last December, with Anthony Tohill representing the Trustees and William Maloney of the Riverhead law firm Esseks, Hefter and Angel representing the Macklowes.

Mr. Tohill was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Justice Whelan’s decision focused on deeds to the oceanfront property that reached as far back as March 17, 1900, and that he said ran counter to the Trustees’ claim that the southern boundary should be described in terms of a precise linear distance. His decision also stated that the Trustees, too, “benefit from the holding of an ambulatory boundary,” as when beach is lost to erosion, rather than gained through accretion.

At the same time, the justice rejected an attempt by the Macklowes to establish the high-water mark as their southernmost boundary.

Mr. Tohill had said in December that there were 22,000 square feet of beach at stake in the dispute. At that time he said that the Macklowes’ claim to the beach by virtue of old deeds and grants had no validity under New York State law.

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If you have the patience to read, and the knowledge to understand, the entire Decision, there actually is a lot in there that should gladden the Town Trustees and all who support public beach access rights. On page 12: "[T]he Court dismisses the ... causes of action which seek a declaration that the south boundary of plaintiffs' property is the high water mark of the Atlantic Ocean and that their property retains its littoral rights. The deeds in question do not describe the boundary as the high ...more
By davbud (127), east hampton on Mar 28, 12 9:19 AM