Property rights and the shore: Grendell letter from September 2006

State Sen. Timothy Grendell, R-Chesterland I am writing in response to the editorial Sept. 5, "
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

State Sen. Timothy Grendell, R-Chesterland

I am writing in response to the editorial Sept. 5, "Lakeshore is for everyone."

The editorial made several points that I would like to respond to, but it also introduced a more fundamental matter that needs to be discussed in a public forum: the importance of private property rights.

Throughout history, people have recognized the value of land and private property ownership. In the United States, the ability to obtain and protect private property is a long revered and constitutionally protected right. The ability to acquire and protect property made the U.S. prosperous. Patriots of the Revolutionary War and our Founding Fathers understood the importance of a system of government that secured the basic freedoms of life, liberty, and property ownership. To secure those rights the Founders established the Constitution, which established our form of government - protecting life and property and securing liberty and happiness for all Americans.

For that reason, I am moved to respond to the editor's comments that, "access to Lake Erie shouldn't be limited to the select few who happened to get there first."

Championing private property ownership does not mean that we must limit access to any of our state's valuable resources. To provide all Ohioans with access to recreational areas, Ohio has invested in 74 state parks, 20 state forests, 127 nature preserves, and 120 wildlife preserves. These state resources comprise approximately 590,000 acres of opportunity for Ohioans. Ohio also has six national parks and hundreds of local and municipal parks. Similarly, there is significant access to the shores of Lake Erie--with more than 80 state and local parks open to the public along the 260 miles of mainland shoreline. This fact is at complete odds with the final remarks of the editorial, "What good is it [Lake Erie] if the public can't get to it?" The public can easily get to Lake Erie, and at no cost.

In America, private property ownership is not limited to the "select few." We renounced that in overthrowing the British hereditary monarchy. Private property, including lakefront property, is available to any willing buyer who wishes to purchase property from a willing seller. There should be no difference for those who happen to own property on the shores of Lake Erie. True, Lakefront land is beautiful and valuable, but there are many beautiful vistas throughout our state. Would the editors seek to prohibit people from owning wooded land in the central Ohio region or the hills near Cincinnati because it is "unfair" that private owners 'get there first'? What about individuals who work family farms throughout rural Ohio, or those who own homes in urban historic districts? Any effort to eradicate private property ownership in these areas would be decried as fundamentally un-American. Lakefront property owners deserve equal protection for their private property.

Your editorial was correct to note that landowners have a compelling argument against the state. Yet, I would respectfully argue that you erred in failing to recognize the lakefront property owners' right to private property ownership. In our constitutional republic, laws protect the rights of the few from the whims of the majority. Appealing to communal ownership to justify the ODNR's land grab not only ignores the importance of private property rights, it undermines the rights of a comparatively small number of Ohioans. The concept that government can simply take private property from those who "get there first" and give it to the collective public is called "socialism." It is an ideology that threatens countless other rights and the very framework of America. For that reason, I ask that you reconsider your position on the lakefront.