by Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
On January 10, 2019 The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the Oakland County trial court’s ruling (Virginia Park Subdivision Association v Hair, et al) in that the first tier lot owners are not riparian or waterfront, and are in no better position than the back-lot owners. The case was then remanded to the trial court to determine how many if any docks, boats, etc. can be utilized.
The lawsuit involved a small platted park strip in an old plat at a lake in Oakland County. Traditionally, the Michigan courts have held that where a relatively narrow strip of land is dedicated as a park in a plat and it is located between the lake and the first tier of lots (and there is no intervening land shown between the park and the water), the first tier lots are normally deemed to be lakefront or riparian. While members of the public for a public park and lot owners within the plat for a private park can swim, lounge, fish, sunbathe, etc. on the park, only the adjoining first tier lot owners can install and utilize docks, boat moorage, etc. Most legal experts believe that was settled law.
The first tier lot owners have decided to apply for leave to the Michigan Supreme Court so the matter can be reviewed. Because of the potential impact to Riparians state-wide, the MLSA Board voted to fund an amicus brief filing in support of the property owners appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Attorney Cliff Bloom will have an in-depth article about this case in the Spring 2019 RIPARIAN MAGAZINE. The spring issue will be delivered to magazine subscribers in the latter part of April.