Good fences may make good neighbors,1 but one person’s dock can often lead to litigation with a neighbor, or with a local government. In fact, disputes over the right of a property owner to build a dock to access adjoining water—to exercise his or her “riparian rights”2—seem to be arising with more and more frequency, and in a wide variety of situations. Early last month, for example, the New York Court of Appeals, in Estate of Becker v. Murtagh,3 resolved an adverse possession dispute between neighboring property owners over the ownership of land upon which a dock had been constructed in 1963 on Oak Beach in the Long Island Town of Babylon.
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