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U.S. Supreme Court

District of Columbia v. Andrews Paper Co., 256 U.S. 582 (1921)

District of Columbia v. Andrews Paper Company

Nos. 282-284

Argued April 22, 25, 1921

Decided June 1, 1921

256 U.S. 582


1. Permits to build vaults under sidewalks adjacent to their premises were issued to private parties for a nominal charge by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, subject to the building regulations, which provided, inter alia, that no charge should be made the occupants of such vaults, that permits should be revocable when the space was needed for public use or improvements, and that the space should be vacated when ordered by the Commissioners or needed for public use; the permittees signed agreements, as required by these regulations, accepting the permits on conditions recognizing the right of the District to construct sewers, etc., which it might deem necessary, and the duty of vault occupants to clear the space

Page 256 U. S. 583

therefor, without cost to the District, and declaring that the occupation was permitted merely as an accommodation to abutting owners, and that no right, title, or interest of the public was in any way waived or abridged, "except as expressed in said permit and the condition aforesaid." Held that the building regulations were not to be looked to for grants in the streets, and that the permits were to be strictly construed, and were mere licenses, revocable by the District government at its discretion. P. 256 U. S. 586.

2. An application made long ago to the District government for permission to build a vault under a sidewalk, followed by its construction and continuous use, may support a presumption of a license, but not of a permanent grant in the street. P. 256 U. S. 587.

3. The Act of September 1, 1916, C. 433, § 7, 39 Stat. 716, authorizing and directing assessment and collection of rent from all users of space under sidewalks and streets of the District of Columbia occupied and used in connection with their business applies to vaults constructed before, as well as those constructed after, the date of the act. P. 256 U. S. 588.

49 App.D.C. 273, 276, 263 F.1d 17, 1020, reversed.

The cases are stated in the opinion.

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