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Defendants were seeking building approvals for their new home from the City of Rye Planning Commission when Plaintiffs commenced an action for declaratory and injunctive relief alleging the set back lines on the subdivision map for the front and back yards were deed restrictions that run with the land. The subdivision map, approved by the Planning Commission in 1967, mandated set backs of at least 60 feet. The trial court granted plaintiffs summary judgment, and the defendants appealed.

On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department held that “the policy of the law is to favor free and unobstructed use” of land, and that the motion for summary judgment should have been denied. A purchaser of real property only takes with notice encumbrances in the chain of title, and absent actual notice or exceptional circumstances, is bound only by restrictions appearing in the deed of record in the conveyance (either his or his predecessors). Here, nothing indicated the set back lines were deed restrictions running with the land, and as such restrictions are strictly construed against those seeking to enforce them, plaintiff’s failure to show clear and convincing proof mandated denial of the motion for summary judgment. Reversed and remanded.

The case was Butler v. Mathisson, 114 A.D.3d 894 (N.Y.A.D. 2d Dept. 2014) and can be accessed here.