By Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

After decades of a claimed peaceful co-existing use of a path, park easement and Lake Chemung, by both front and back-lot owners, one or more of the newer front-lot owners began asserting riparian rights. They questioned the placement of docks and the mooring of watercraft.

No resolution was achieved and a law suit was filed. The circuit court held that the front-lot owners of the Glen Echo platted subdivision are the fee owners of a park that, in 1921, was dedicated in the Glen Echo plat “..to the use of Lot Owners in said plat…” That also meant the front-lots had riparian rights. Many of the back-lot owners did not agree with the circuit court, so they took the decision to the Appeals Court.

On December 21, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals rendered a decision in Ikle v Goebel, et al (NOTE: Supreme Court Docket No. 166640, Court of Appeals No. 360854, Livingston County Circuit Court Case No. 18-29855-CZ, Hon. Michael P. Hatty) that held the front-lot owners did not have riparian rights to the park land and shoreline. That decision, we believe, is in direct conflict with scores of common law cases that clearly establish the matter of riparian rights and ownership. Subsequently, the MLSA board voted unanimously to file an Amicus Curie brief to protect the rights of our members. The Michigan Supreme Court has accepted the MLSA amicus, but it has not yet decided if it will hear the appeal.

The MLSA amicus brief asks the Court to consider the legal issue of fee ownership and riparian rights to the land on which the park easement exists, and do so by being consistent with scores of prior legal decisions. The brief also asks the court to limit the scope of the park easement to non-riparian uses as provided for by the subdivision dedication.

Join us at our Annual Conference for the Riparian Rights Q&A to ask our attorney, Cliff Bloom, ANYTHING! The session starts on Friday night at 7:00PM and ends when the questions do.

Conference Session Preview: Harmful Algal Bloom
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