More than 200 property owners in the Town of Long Lake, Hamilton County, will receive letters asking if they want to resolve title issues to their properties as part of the Township 40 settlement, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced yesterday. The letters include a notarized statement form that must be returned to DEC within 90 days by any landowner who wants to be included in the settlement.
New York State voters approved a constitutional amendment last November that allows owners of the disputed properties to notify DEC whether they want their land parcel to be included in the Township 40 settlement. The State will release claims on properties whose owners “opt in” to the settlement. Those owners will have to sign a notarized statement, included with the letter, and will then be required to make a payment to the Town of Long Lake within one year.
“The passage of the Township 40 constitutional amendment was an important step to resolve land disputes dating back more than 100 years,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “Property owners receiving this letter will have the chance to settle the land claims or they may choose not to be part of the settlement. We encourage people to review the letter, along with the additional information, so they can make an informed choice.”
In Raquette Lake, there are 216 properties, including homes, businesses and public buildings, with unclear titles to land totaling more than 1,000 acres. Under the approved constitutional amendment and implementing legislation that took effect January 1, 2014, owners of the disputed parcels can make a payment to the Town of Long Lake to obtain clear title to their property. The payments will be used to purchase lands that will be added to the State Forest Preserve.
The letter explains the process, asks if the property owner wants to be part of the settlement, and includes forms to either ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of the settlement. If the form is not returned to DEC within 90 days of its receipt, the owner’s parcel will automatically be “opted-out” of the settlement and referred to the Attorney General. The settlement requires the Attorney General to file legal action to determine who has title to “opted-out” properties.
A list of frequently asked questions about the settlement and settlement process is included with the letter. DEC has also set up an e-mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org so people can submit Township 40 related questions; or they can contact Rob Morrell at DEC at (518) 402-9442.