THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK ex rel. FRANCES V. HALLOCK and JOHN H. HALLOCK, as Administrators, etc., of DAVID H. VALENTINE, Deceased, Relators,
JOSEPH P. HENNESSY and Others, Composing the Board of Assessors of the City of New York, Respondents.
CERTIORARI issued out of the Supreme Court and attested on the 17th day of May, 1911, directed to Joseph P. Hennessy and others, composing the board of assessors of the city of New York, commanding them to certify and return to the office of the clerk of the county of Kings all and singular their proceedings had in awarding certain damages to the relators under chapter 582 of the Laws of 1905.
Benjamin Trapnell [Joseph A. Flannery with him on the brief], for the relators.
Clarence L. Barber [Theodore Connoly and Archibald R. Watson with him on the brief], for the respondents.
This is a proceeding by way of writ of certiorari to review a determination of the board of assessors of the city of New York, made under the authority of chapter 582 of the Laws of 1905. It appears from the record before us that prior to 1901 a drawbridge crossed Newtown creek, connecting the borough of Queens with the borough of Brooklyn. As it then existed, this bridge ended on the Queens borough side at Vernon avenue. The approach to that bridge on the Vernon avenue side was about four feet above the level of the roadway, inclining gradually to the sidewalk, so that access to and from the neighboring property was practically undisturbed. In 1901 the city of New York began the erection of a new bridge across Newtown creek in the same place, and necessarily removed the old drawbridge. The new bridge was completed and thrown open to the public in 1905. It is what is known as a bascule bridge, the span over the water being separable at its middle into two parts, both of which are lifted up into the air to enable vessels to pass through. A change was made in the approaches to the bridge. On the Vernon avenue side the approach began some 1,050 feet from the corner of Vernon avenue and Newtown creek, and was carried along on a steel viaduct, which, as it reached Newtown creek, was about 22 feet above the roadway of Vernon avenue. This viaduct was open below and permitted travel along Vernon avenue to the creek, but it removed substantially all access to and from the bridge to the
real property on Vernon avenue where it abutted Newtown creek. In 1905 the Legislature enacted chapter 582 of the laws of that year. This act provides as follows:
'Section 1. The board of assessors of the city of New York is hereby authorized and empowered in its discretion to estimate and determine the damage which the owner or owners of lands and buildings abutting upon Vernon avenue and adjacent to Newtown creek in the borough of Queens have suffered, or will suffer, by reason of the erection and construction of the bridge over Newtown creek, between Manhattan avenue in the borough of Brooklyn and Vernon avenue in the borough of Queens, and to certify the same to the comptroller of the city of New York, setting forth the amount of the said award with interest. Said board of assessors shall deduct from any award of damages so made by them any sum or sums of money which they may find as matter of fact have been allowed for consequential damages to the owner or owners of any such lands or buildings by any commissioners of estimate appointed pursuant to provisions of the charter of the city of New York.
'§ 2. The amount of such award or awards so certified shall be paid by the city of New York, and the comptroller is hereby authorized to issue corporate stock of the city of New York to the amount of such award or awards with interest.
'§ 3. All acts, or parts of acts, inconsistent with the provisions of this act, are hereby repealed.
'§ 4. This act shall take effect immediately.'
The relators in this proceeding are the heirs at law of the late Mr. David H. Valentine, who, at the time of his death, owned a parcel of real property at the corner of Vernon avenue and Newtown creek, which fronted on Vernon avenue and likewise upon Newtown creek. On the creek side this property was used as water-front property, and on the avenue side it was devoted largely to small stores, such as a liquor saloon, a cigar store and several other small shops. The relators, acting under the statute aforesaid, presented a claim in writing to the board of assessors of the city of New York, requesting that the damages to their ...