Rappaport v. Village of Saltaire

130 A.D.3d 930 (2d Dept.), lv. denied, 29 N.Y.3d 912 (2015).  This litigation concerned vacant real property that had been deeded to our municipal client, Village of Saltaire, in 1985 with a restriction that it had to be maintained in its natural state for public purposes, or it would revert back to the original owner.  Twenty-five years later, the surviving original owner agreed to remove the restriction and cancel his reverter rights.  A neighboring property owner challenged the agreement, asserting that the land was “parkland” and, therefore, the original owner had no authority to remove the restrictions and the agreement had to be approved by the State legislature.  The Appellate Division agreed with us that the original owner “as the grantor, had the authority to release the Village from its obligation to perform the conditions in the deed and thereupon waive and terminate his reversionary interest,” and it also confirmed our contention that the land was “not under the control of the Legislature,” precisely because it had been deeded to the Village “subject to a [private] reversionary interest.”