Black River Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Citation121 N.E.2d 428,307 N.Y. 475
Decision Date14 July 1954

307 N.Y. 475

121 N.E.2d 428

BLACK RIVER REGULATING DISTRICT et al., Respondents,

v.

ADIRONDACK LEAGUE CLUB, Appellant.

Court of Appeals of New York

Argued February 26, 1954.

July 14, 1954, decided

Charles H. Tuttle, Warnick J. Kernan, John R. Brook and Sanford D. Stockton, Jr., for appellant.

Nathaniel L. Goldstein, Attorney-General (Edward L. Ryan and Wendell P. Brown of counsel), appearing under section 71 of the Executive Law.

Milo R. Kniffen for Adirondack Moose River Committee, Inc., and others, amici curice, in support of appellant's position.

Daniel Scanlon and Russell Wright for respondents.

[307 N.Y. 483] [121 N.E.2d 430]

DYE, J. In this appeal we deal with the enforcibility of a proposed plan to construct Panther Mountain reservoir and dam on the south branch of the Moose River, a tributary of the Black River in Herkimer County, for the purpose of regulating the flow of the Black River and its tributaries *.

The controversy turns on the applicability of the Stokes Act, so-called, which prohibits the construction of "reservoirs for the regulation of the flow of streams or for any other purpose except for municipal water supply * * * in Hamilton or Herkimer counties on the south branch of the Moose river by any river regulating board." (L. 1950, ch. 803, eff. [307 N.Y. 484] April 20, 1950, amdg. Conservation Law, § 445, as added by L. 1915, ch. 662.)

Prior to such amendment the State Constitution as it then read, declared "lands of the state * * * constituting the forest preserve * * * shall be forever kept as wild forest lands" subject however to the exception that the Legislature could provide "for the use of not exceeding three per centum of such lands for the construction and maintenance of reservoirs * * * to regulate the flow of streams" (N.Y. Const., art. XIV, §§ 1, 2).

At the general election held in November, 1953, this exception was cancelled and withdrawn by the adoption of the Ostrander [121 N.E.2d 431] Amendment, so-called, which, according to the official phrasing prepared by the Secretary of State for the voting machines and ballots was intended "to prohibit the use of portions of the forest preserve for the construction of reservoirs to regulate the flow of streams". In adopting that amendment the People of the State have rendered the lands of the State Forest Preserve inviolate for use in regulating the flow of streams.

When the parties to this litigation were previously before us, the board asked us to review the correctness of the decision in the Appellate Division (to the effect that the reservoirs and dam should be built according to plan "to the same extent that it would have done if the Stokes Act had not been passed".) We ruled that "Since the reservoir planned by the Board * * * was concededly not 'for municipal water supply' and since no construction had actually been commenced, the action on the part of the Legislature [that is, enactment of the Stokes Act] effectively and completely disposed of the Board's plan." We reversed the order of the Appellate Division and remitted the matter to Special Term "with directions to dismiss the petitions solely upon the ground that the issues are moot". We thus did not reach the merits ( Wilmerding v. O'Dwyer, 297 N.Y. 664) nor did we deem it a situation requiring special treatment ( Matter of Rosenbluth v. Finkelstein, 300 N.Y. 402; Matter of Glenram Wine & Liq. Corp. v. O'Connell, 295 N.Y. 336). At the same time we declined to pass upon the constitutionality of the Stokes Act as such question was not then before us ( Matter of Adirondack League Club v.Board [307 N.Y. 485] of Black Riv. Regulating Dist., 301 N.Y. 219, revg. 275 App. Div. 618). Shortly thereafter the Black River Regulating District and the individual plaintiffs for themselves and as members of the district board instituted this action for a judgment declaring it entitled to maintain condemnation proceedings ** as against the defendant, Adirondack League Club and that the Stokes Act in its application to the Panther Mountain Reservoir project is constitutionally invalid.

The defendant, Adirondack League Club, by its answer, admitted all the facts of record and generally denied all other allegations, pleading in and for an affirmative defense that the construction of the Panther Mountain reservoir was barred by the Stokes Act, the plaintiff's lack of status to challenge its validity and our decision in the prior case. The defendant then challenged the sufficiency of the complaint by motion for judgment on the pleadings (Rules Civ. Prac., rule 112) or, in the alternative, for an order dismissing the complaint and for summary judgment (Rules Civ. Prac., rule 113). The Special Term granted such motion, dismissed the complaint and gave summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

The Appellate Division, although agreeing that the final order of the district board had been rendered inoperative by the decision of this court and had been annulled by implication of law, but since we had not passed on the constitutionality of the Stokes Act, unanimously reversed on the law and the facts the Special Term order dismissing the complaint, holding as a matter of law that if the constitutional invalidity of the act was established, "the issues which were rendered moot by the passage of the Stokes Act would be no longer moot". The Appellate Division also indicated that the plaintiffs had an independent interest (by reason of their liability on the outstanding certificates of indebtedness), separate and apart from their status as an agency of the State, to test the constitutionality of the Stokes Act ( Black River Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 282 App. Div. 161).

[307 N.Y. 486] [121 N.E.2d 432] The Appellate Division granted leave to appeal to this court on seven certified questions of law, viz.:

"1.Did this Court err as a matter of law in reversing the order and judgment of the Special Term?

2. Under Rule 112 of the Rules of Civil...

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59 practice notes
  • People v. McQueen
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • October 27, 1966
    ...& Seashore Corp. v. Murdock, 286 N.Y. 494, 498--499, 36 N.E.2d 678, 680). In Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 486--487, 121 N.E.2d 428, 432, we stated, as the rationale for this fundamental, 'our unwillingness to perpetuate a judgment contrary to existing......
  • Board of Ed., Levittown Union Free School Dist., Nassau County v. Nyquist
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • October 26, 1981
    ...78 S.Ct. 382, 2 L.Ed.2d 355, reh. den. 355 U.S. 968, 78 S.Ct. 534, 2 L.Ed.2d 543; Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 121 N.E.2d 428; United Page 848 States v. Schooner Peggy, 1 Cranch 103, 2 L.Ed. 49), we have been compelled to evaluate the legislation whic......
  • City of New York v. State
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • June 15, 1995
    ...165 N.E. 836; Robertson v. Zimmermann, 268 N.Y. 52, 196 N.E. 740). As stated in Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 121 N.E.2d 428, appeal dismissed 351 U.S. 922, 76 S.Ct. 780, 100 L.Ed. [86 N.Y.2d 291] "The courts of this State from very early times have co......
  • People v. Kaiser
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • December 7, 1967
    ...v. Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co., 238 N.Y. 271, 144 N.E. 579, 36 A.L.R. 1310; Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 121 N.E.2d 428; Harris v. Jex, 55 N.Y. Applying these standards in the case at bar, we are led to the conclusion that the Berger decision should ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
59 cases
  • Faltynowicz v. Battery Park City Auth. (In re World Trade Ctr. Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litig.)
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (New York)
    • November 21, 2017
    ...of Herkimer v. Axelrod, 58 N.Y.2d 1069, 462 N.Y.S.2d 633, 449 N.E.2d 413 [1983] ; Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 489, 121 N.E.2d 428 [1954] ; Matter of Town of Moreau v. County of Saratoga, 142 A.D.2d 864, 531 N.Y.S.2d 61 [3d Dept.1988] ; City of Buffal......
  • Board of Ed., Levittown Union Free School Dist., Nassau County v. Nyquist
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • October 26, 1981
    ...78 S.Ct. 382, 2 L.Ed.2d 355, reh. den. 355 U.S. 968, 78 S.Ct. 534, 2 L.Ed.2d 543; Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 121 N.E.2d 428; United Page 848 States v. Schooner Peggy, 1 Cranch 103, 2 L.Ed. 49), we have been compelled to evaluate the legislation whic......
  • Faltynowicz v. Battery Park City Auth. (In re World Trade Ctr. Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litig.)
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (New York)
    • November 21, 2017
    ...of Herkimer v. Axelrod, 58 N.Y.2d 1069, 462 N.Y.S.2d 633, 449 N.E.2d 413 [1983] ; Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 489, 121 N.E.2d 428 [1954] ; 89 N.E.3d 1232 Matter of Town of Moreau v. County of Saratoga, 142 A.D.2d 864, 531 N.Y.S.2d 61 [3d Dept.1988] ;......
  • People v. Kaiser
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (New York)
    • December 7, 1967
    ...v. Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co., 238 N.Y. 271, 144 N.E. 579, 36 A.L.R. 1310; Black Riv. Regulating Dist. v. Adirondack League Club, 307 N.Y. 475, 121 N.E.2d 428; Harris v. Jex, 55 N.Y. Applying these standards in the case at bar, we are led to the conclusion that the Berger decision sho......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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