SACKETS HARBOR A federal appellate court Wednesday upheld a lower courts ruling that dismissed Sackets Harbor Leasing Co. LLCs lawsuit against the village over long-disputed wharf rights at the companys Main Street property.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York City, determined that U.S. District Court Senior Judge Neal P. McCurn, Syracuse, ruled appropriately in February 2011 when he granted the villages motion for summary judgment dismissing the action. Judge McCurn concluded that the companys federal claims were precluded because they mirrored claims already decided in state Supreme Court.
Sackets Harbor Leasing and the village have been at legal odds since 2002 over the wharf rights, which first were set out in an 1815 deed by which the villages namesake, Augustus Sackett, transferred the property to another man.
The company, whose managing member is John M. Maxon, has tried to build a downtown hotel and conference center at 404-406 Main St. for a decade but has run up against village planning and zoning laws. Mr. Maxon, believing he had all the necessary approvals to start the project, began installing docks in the summer of 2002 but was told by the village to stop the work and remove the docks.
The village filed Supreme Court action to have the docks removed, resulting in a May 2004 decision in the villages favor. The state Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed the lower courts decision in February 2006, and a Supreme Court judge dismissed the companys counterclaims, which among other things alleged the village violated its wharf rights, in March 2007.
Sackets Harbor Leasing filed federal action in February 2008, claiming that the state court made no determination regarding the companys 20-foot wharf right that it had acquired when it purchased the property. The company claimed the village was denying it use of the wharf rights without constitutionally protected due process by, among other things, ticketing Mr. Maxon for mooring a boat there when he previously had been allowed to do so.
Judge McCurn ruled that Sackets Harbor Leasings rights in the disputed area already had been litigated in the state court action and could not be litigated again, a decision with which the Court of Appeals agreed.