What is the easiest way to retire a right of way when both the Town and the adjacent landowners wish to abandon it?
The most practical way to resolve a case like this is to utilize the simplified procedure in Highway Law §171. That statute allows a town highway to be discontinued (in effect abandoned) if the adjoining property owners submit a written application to do so to the Town Superintendent of Highways along with their releases of any monetary compensation that otherwise may be due to the property owners. If the Superintendent of Highways agrees and the Town Board approves, the Superintendent of Highways makes an order discontinuing the highway and files that order with the releases with the Town Clerk.
Note that to use this procedure both the Town and the adjacent property owners must be in agreement to discontinue the right of way and it must be undisputed that the right of way is now useless.
Abandonment of highways is generally covered in Highway Law § 205. That statute typically requires a complicated legal and factual analysis of the situation to abandon a town highway. When all parties are in agreement the simplified procedure in Highway Law §171 offers a more expeditious and potentially less expensive way to accomplish the same result .