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The lot mentioned in the petition of McCrea, is in the central part of the village, and is a small narrow strip of ground situate between the public square, reserved in the original survey and plan of the village, and the Salmon river, and is only separated from the square by Salmon-street. It extends along the river across the whole front of the public square and cemetery ground, a distance of six hundred and seventy-nine feet, and is in some places not more than thirty or forty feet wide from the street to the river. This ground, from its location, was evidently not intended to be sold, as upon the survey and map it was not numbered as a lot, and in the appraisement made of the village lots, no value was set upon this lot. Salmon-street is laid as nearly upon the bank of the river as it could well be, and continue it upon a straight line, and this is the narrow strip of ground lying between this street and the river, at the point where the street and the river approach nearest to each other.
Should it be sold, buildings might be erected upon it in a manner to destroy in a great measure the beauty and prospect of the grounds reserved for the public uses of the village, and it might give occasion to those who have purchased lots in the vicinity, with anticipations of the advantage of a location near the public square, and with the understanding that this cpen space to the river was not to be occupied, to complain.
The Commissioners also find that a gun-house erected with money drawn from the treasury, for the preservation of a piece of ordnance and its equipments belonging to the State, but in the use of a company of artillery of the village, is located upon a corner of this lot; and it cannot, therefore, be granted without the reservation of so much as it may be necessary to reserve for the convenient use of this gun-house, except by conveying the title to the house as well as the land.
A law was passed on the 21st March, 1825, authorising the Commissioners to lease this lot to Benjamin Sanborn for a term of years, and upon certain conditions mentioned in the act. Mr. Sanborn, however, has never come forward and taken a lease, and the act has remained inoperative.
McCrea, the petitioner, claims no interest in the lot, either possessory or otherwise, and, therefore, as is to be presumed from his petition, desires the purchase merely as a profitable investment of money, and this he would prefer to make without the risk of encountering the competition which might be excited by the sale of the lot in the usual manner. The Commissioners know no reason why this privilege should be granted to him rather than to any other individual. They are at present impressed with the belief, that a fair regard for the interests of this new but flourishing village, requires that this small piece of ground should not be sold at all, but if it is to be sold, they are clearly of the opinion that the prayer of this petitioner should not be granted, but that the sale of this lot should take the course of the ordinary sales of the public lands of
By an act passed on the 3d April, 1821, (see laws of that session, page 255,) the Surveyor-General was authorised, in his discretion, to lease for the term of ten years, the lands reserved for military purposes within the mile square in the St. Regis Reservation, being the same mile square of land before spoken of Pursuant to that act, the Surveyor-General did enter into a lease with George B. R. Gove and John Moore, for one of the military lots so reserved within the said mile square, containing, exclusive of certain exceptions and reservations made in the lease, forty-six acres of land. The lease bore date on the 10th day of May, 1822, and was to run until the 3d day of April, 1831, and the yearly rent reserved was twelve dollars. By an assignment upon the lease, accompanying the petition of John Moore, it will appear that on the 28th April, 1825, Gove assigned to Moore, his co-lessee, all his interest in the lease for the remainder of the term; and from the petition it will be seen that the land has been occupied under the lease to the present time. The Commissioners find, upon inquiry, at the Comptroller's office, that the rent accruing upon this lease has been paid up to the present year, and from persons residing in the immediate neighborhood of the premises, and well acquainted with the land, and with its present situation, they are informed that the tenant cannot have obtained sufficient avails from the lot to compensate him for his payments of rent, and for the improvements he has made up to the present time. This information they believe may be relied on, and that this allegation in the petition, may be considered established
by it. The necessary consequence, therefore, of exposing this land for sale in the ordinary course, as soon as the tenant’s present term
shall expire, must be to draw against him a competition induced by the improvements he has made, and for which he has not been com
pensated from the use of the land. This the Commissioners feel safe in supposing the Legislature will not be inclined to do, and therefore that they will adopt one of the alternatives prayed for by the petitioner.
One of these alternatives, that of paying the petitioner for his improvements as they may be appraised, the Commissioners cannot recommend. Experience has already shown them most fully, that appraisements thus made, to be paid out of the public treasury, will always be liberal, if not exorbitant; and that land falling into the hands of the State, charged with large sums paid for improvements, cannot be sold without loss, while the improvements in a short time become valueless for want of attention, and from the great liberties always taken with public property found without an immediate protector. >
There may not be any great choice between the two remaining propositions of the petitioner; that of selling him the land at its appraisad value exclusive of his improvements, and that of extending the term of his lease at the present rent. As however this land is situate in the immediate vicinity of a growing village, and must be enhanced in value from this circumstance as well as from the farther cultivation of the petitioner, and as the Commissioners are informed that another term equal to the one now about to expire, and at the same rent now paid, would fully compensate the petitioner for all the improvements he has made, or which it will be necessary for him to make for the profitable occupancy of the premises, the extension of the lease, in all respects upon its present terms, has seemed to them the preferable mode of doing justice to the petitioner.
They therefore recommend that a law be passed authorising the Surveyor-General to renew and extend the lease now held by the petitioner, John Moore, for the term of nine years from and after the third day of April next; reserving the same rent reserved by the present lease, and in all other respects following the covenants, conditions, reservations and exceptions made and contained in the lease executed in pursuance of the act of the 3d April, 1821.
Pursuant to the same act of the 3d April, 1821, the SurveyorGeneral entered into another lease for the other Military Reserve, within the same mile square of land, consisting of thirteen acres, with William McLaughlin. The rent reserved by this lease was only one dollar and thirty cents for each year of the term, and the rent was to commence on the third day of April, 1822, and the lease to expire on the 3d of April, 1831. The rent upon this lease also appears to have been punctually paid.
It appears by the petition, that McLaughlin was the owner of farm lot No. 6, in the St. Regis Reservation, which bounds upon the piece of ground leased by him as before mentioned, and is separated from the Salmon river by the leased lot; that there were improvements upon the farm-lot, and that McLaughlin improved the leased lot, and has, since the execution of the lease to him, erected a framed dwelling-house upon it. That McLaughlin is now deceased, and that the petitioner, who is his widow, with her family, occupies the house, and is the representative of his rights under the lease. The truth of the facts set forth in the petition is verified by the certificate of a number of the citizens of the neighborhood, and the Commissioners have no doubt the statements are correct. They further learn that McLaughlin has no house upon his farm lot, and that the house built upon the leased ground was designed as the residence of himself and family, and it is supposed that the house was located upon this land instead of his farm lot, to hring it near to the TiVer.
The petitioner prays for the extension of the lease given to her husband, or for the pre-emptive right to the leased lot at its appraised value, exclusive of the improvements made upon it by her husband, and the object is to save the house and buildings. It is found that the farm lot owned by McLaughlin does not extend along. the whole western boundary of the leased lot, but that other farm lots are also separated from the Salmon river by this military ground, and it does not seem to be necessary that the pre-emptive right to the whole thirteen acres should be granted to the petitioner, to enable her to accomplish the avowed object of her petition, that of saving the buildings erected upon it. These buildings are located upon the northerly part of the leased lot, in front of the farm lot owned by McLaughlin, and the grant to the petitioner of so much of the land held under the lease as should embrace those buildings, and all of that lot north of them, would seem to answer fully the purpose to be accomplished. This would probably not take more than three or four acres of the ground belonging to the State, and would leave the residue to be sold to the highest bidder, without any reservation of right to individuals.
The Commissioners have therefore concluded that a law should be passed giving to the petitioner the pre-emptive right to so much of the land held under the lease as shall include the ground upon which the dwelling-house and any other buildings connected with it stand, together with all the land north of the line which may be drawn at such a distance south of the buildings as to give room for their convenient use and occupation, and that the residue of the thirteen acres should be left the property of the state, free from any claim of the petitioner, and to be leased or sold by the Commissioners, as the interests of the state may dictate. The map of this lot will show that this is granting all which can be reasonably asked by the petitioner, and that a grant to her of the pre-emptive right to the whole lot might give her an undue advantage over the persons owning the other farm lots, separated from the river by this ground, and certainly would give to her the pre-emptive right to land in no way necessary to secure the buildings she occupies, or the convenient enjoyment of the farm lot left by her husband.
The Commissioners, from this view of the facts, recommend the passage of a law directing the Surveyor-General to cause a survey to be made of so much land from the northerly part of the said thirteen acres as shall be necessary to include the buildings of the petitioner and convenient grounds around the same, and all of the said lot lying north of the said buildings, the south line of the piece to be surveyed not, in any event, to be located to exceed rods to to the south of the building, and to cause an appraisement of the present value of the land included in the survey to be made, excluding from the appraisement all buildings erected upon the land; and further directing the Surveyor-General to sell to the petitioner, Catharine McLaughlin, upon the usual terms of selling public lands, the lands to be included in such survey and appraisement, at the value so to be ascertained. All which is respectfully submitted. SILAS WRIGHT, JR. Compt. A. C. FLAGG, Sec'y. SIMEON DE WITT, Surv. Gen. GREENE C. BRONSON, Att'y Gen.
Albany, February 11, 1831.