Is An Easement Limited to a Specific Purpose and Is Extinguished by the Permanent Abandonment of That Purpose ?

In Norris v. Hoffman (133 App Div 596 [1st Dept 1909], affd 197 NY 578 [1910]), a right of way for carriages was granted to three lot owners to be used "as a passage to their respective stables." Ruling that a cessation of use "under circumstances showing an intention to abandon the easement--no matter for how short a time--works a destruction of the right," the Court held that the demolition of the existing houses and the erection of a large apartment building "extinguished whatever easement they had theretofore in the carriageway, because such act was inconsistent with the terms of the reservation ... as the circumstances under which it was reserved and the necessity for its use no longer exist" (at 599, 600). In another case involving a right of way to be used only as a carriageway, the court applying the principle that when "an easement is expressly limited to a specific purpose, the easement is extinguished by the permanent abandonment of that purpose," ruled that the "demolition of the stables and private residences, and the conversion of the property to commercial use were unequivocal acts manifesting a clear intention to abandon the use and purpose for which the easement was created" (416 Props. v. Stampler, 42 Misc 2d 335, 336-337 [Sup Ct, NY County 1964]).