Grimditches seek to appeal boathouse case

The larger of the two Grimditch boathouses. Photo by George Earl.
The larger of the two Grimditch boathouses. Photo by George Earl.

A family that built two boathouses on Lake Placid without a town permit wants to take its legal case to the state’s highest tribunal, the Court of Appeals.

William H. Grimditch Jr. and his children contend that the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court erred when it ruled in June that town law applied to the construction of boathouses on the lake.

In its 5-0 ruling, the Appellate Division partially reversed decisions in two similar cases in which it held that municipalities have no jurisdiction over construction on the state’s navigable waterways. Click here to read more about the ruling.

The Grimditches lawyer, Mandy McFarland of Albany, contend the Appellate Division’s latest decision represents “a stark departure from its prior rulings” and violates stare decisis, the principle that legal precedents should not be overturned lightly. McFarland also contends that the decision contradicts rulings of other state courts and the Court of Appeals must resolve the conflict. Finally, McFarland said the Appellate Division “created new law” in holding that state Navigation Law is inapplicable in the Grimditch case.

Given the issues at stake, McFarland is asking the Appellate Division for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeals. The motion is returnable on August 27. Jim Ranous, deputy clerk of the Appellate Division, said a decision could be made two to three weeks after arguments are made.

The Grimditches built the boathouses in 2010, defying a stop-work order from the town of North Elba. The town sued and demanded that the structures be torn down.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Meyer ruled in favor of the Grimditches, but the Appellate Division overturned him.


About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Paul says

    Nice looking boat house. But it needs some better doors. This is an interesting case. The ruling in the Lowes lake case seems to solidify the idea that the state has jurisdiction on navigable water. But I guess the question is can two entites have jurisdiction at the same time. It seems to me like they could. There are times where you need permits from the state, the town, and even the federal government For some projects. Why not here. You have to follow both state and local laws, seems pretty simple.

  2. Paul says

    You could easily park 5 boats at this thing. Don’t you need a “marina permit” for docking space for more than 4 boats. There are all these new rented out boat slips on peoples property on the Saranac Chain that have sometimes close to 10 boats at a small property. I am sure these are all illegal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *