Ohio's beach war drags on

Tom Jackson
Mar 23, 2010

 

Thursday night's annual meeting of the Ohio Lakefront Group provides a snapshot of what's going on in the legal war between the group (which says beaches in the members' backyards are private property and the Ohio Environmental Council (which contends the beaches are private property that should be open to everyone).

Tony Yankel, president of the Ohio Lakefront Group, told members gathered at a Holiday Inn in Westlake that the group won a court ruling in Lake County that's been appealed by the other wide to Ohio's Court of Appeals.

Yankel said his group believes the law is on its side, but that it needs more members, more money and less apathy to keep battling environmentalists, who hope to wear the Ohio Lakefront Group down in endless legal battles.

The group also has noticed that Ohio's news media generally sides with environmentalists, Yankel said.

"We need to do some serious public relations work," he said.

The Ohio Lakefront Group was founded in 1999 and claims about 6,000 members.

The group's new board, elected at Tuesday's meeting, includes Mike Prout of Sandusky, Jim Resar of Huron and Nancy Plymale of Marblehead.

Comments

Anonymous

The entire beach shorelines of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are accessible to the public to walk along the water. Where there are beaches along the shorelines, the right to walk the beach should continue to be public domain. The rights of King's, Fuedal societies, and cast systems of landowner's have no place in America.

Anonymous

As long as someone stays along the shore and doesn't mess with your property, what is the big freaking deal if they take a stroll down the beach?

These greedy pigs better watch it. It would be shame to evoke the wrath of those crazy tree huggers.

Anonymous

Every state has its own constitution and it own laws; we are a constitutional republic.

I has nothing to do with greed. They want to protect their property rights. They are right about the law of Ohio supporting their position. The state started trying to change it around 1996. If the state of Ohio suddenly decided that some part of your property was really the state's property all along, and unilaterally changed the law to take it from you, you'd understand the property owners' positions.

"The rights of King's, Fuedal societies, and cast systems of landowner's have no place in America" is the exactly the point these people are making. In America, the King is the Government. We revolted against the British crown and created a constitution to guaranty private rights, private property first and foremost, against intrusions and takings by the Government because in England the King and the royalty took what they wanted from individuals. Study your history.

The only reason so many of you jump on the government's side of this argument is that you practice class warfare and jealousy of people who have what you want. You want to walk on the beach, all the beaches, without regard to who owns them. Walk on a public beach and stay off these people's properties.

If I came to your house and started walking around your yard, not messing with your property, I guaranty you'd come out and tell me to get off it. Same exact thing. You just want what they have.

Anonymous

Since when does Lake Erie belong to any one property owner? It doesn't - it's public. And since at high tide, Lake Erie comes into the shoreline, that shoreline belongs to everyone too.

It has nothing to do with jealously or class warfare. It has to do with a handful of rich, spoiled a--holes thinking they can change what has been the law and custom on Lake Erie for generations.

If they don't like the public on the shoreline, they shouldn't have bought lakefront property.

As for me, I'll keep one toe in the sand and one in the water - and the a--hole who tries to tell me otherwise can see what happens.

Anonymous

Lake Erie belongs to the public.

The land next to it belongs to the property owners. Some of that land is public and has beaches that you are welcome to use.

There are no tides on the Great Lakes. Tides occur in oceans.

The ODNR came along trying to steal the land along the lake in the 1990's. Before that nobody believed that the ordinary high water mark was a line of ownership in Ohio. The law of Ohio always respected the deeds of waterfront property owners and the edge of the water, a moving line, as the border between the Lake and the land next to the lake. When lake levels drop, the owners acquire more land (accretion) and when they rise, the owners lose land (avulsion). That's why the legal concepts of accretion and avulsion exist (look them up). If the ordinary high water mark had always been the law of Ohio, those two concepts wouldn't exist.

These owners have also paid property taxes to those lines since we've had property taxes. Ask the auditor if the property taxes have been reduced to account for less land owned and for waterview property rather than waterfront property.

Fortunately for people who believe in the constitution and the individual rights it protects, this case was heard by a judge who applied the law of the state of Ohio, rather than by a government functionary who works for the socialists and the environmentalists, or some knucklehead like you, who want to take property owners' lands and give them to the public. The appeals court will uphold the decision and so will the Supreme Court. It's completley consistent with 200+ years of Ohio law.

You might try reading the judge's opinion and the caselaw and other law that he cites, rather than the inaccurate, short version in the papers' op-ed pages.

I hope the property owner on whose property you decide to trespass calls you on it. You'll end up in jail, either for trespass or the assault you are insinuating you may visit on him.

Anonymous

Bring it on.

Anonymous

Who ever said that the lakes have no tides needs to take Physics 101 again. It may not be as measurable as an Ocean tide, since the volume of liquid is much smaller but any, ANY parcel of water has a tide due to the gravitational pull of the moon.

Anonymous

Before this degenerates into an argument about what's a tide and what isn't, I believe the court ruling talked about high- and low- water marks. Whether the changes in water level are caused by the moon or the wind is not relevant to the court ruling.

Anonymous

The ODNR and the tree huggers can s uck my balls

Anonymous

The Ohio Lakefront Group should also issue a statement supporting the need to preserve public waterfront access along Lake Erie. Since someone from Sandusky now sits on the OLG board, how about a vote of no confindence for the private Marina District on public park property in Sandusky.

Anonymous

Fit - from that perspective, there are tides in a glass of water. Tides in the Great Lakes are not accurately measurable and not predictable, and don't impact water levels meaningfully. Meteorogical changes in water levels are more frequent and dramatic and prevent measuring and predicting tides.

In any event, it was a response to the point below about tides and the shoreline and my point was that they are irrelevant to this debate. The shoreline is a moving target because of many factors and the law has always recognized that fact in Ohio.

I left out the fact that the Governor and Lt. Governor agree with the property owners on this and that the Lt. Governor wrote an Atty. General's opinion on the topic years ago agreeing with their position. The state has stopped mandatory leasing of the lands on waterfront property owners' deeded property.

I believe that the higher courts will do so as well, as long as the property owners don't run out of money to continue the fight. The Ohio A.G.'s office and the environmental groups involved are hoping to bleed them dry. That's the only way they win this.

Anonymous

Oops, the first paragraph should have been directed to Wait, not to fit.

Anonymous

It's like the pope on birth control, you no playa the game, you no makea da rules. You no paya the taxes, you no usea da beach

Anonymous

I no hava the bambinos, I no a hava to paya for the schools?

Fuggetaboudit!

Anonymous

Not so sure this will hold up in light of all the history...but here's the article, FYI:

Article published Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Judge says lakefront rights extend to the 'water's edge'
Property line ruled mobile

By TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The boundary line that separates public and private land along Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline moves in accordance with the tides, a state judge ruled yesterday.

The 77-page decision by Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Eugene Lucci has potentially sweeping implications for Lake Erie beach walkers as well as fishermen, waterfowl hunters, and birders who want to access the shoreline.

It defines the "water's edge" - not the historic high-watermark - as the boundary.

Such a distinction is crucial as Great Lakes water levels drop and the debate over property rights versus public access is played out.

Filed on behalf of Lake Erie's 15,500 shoreline property owners in Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Erie, Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake, and Ashtabula counties, the 2004 class action lawsuit accused state officials of illegally grabbing private land under the guise of protecting the public's right to access Lake Erie.

Former Gov. Bob Taft's administration argued that the dividing line was the shoreline's historic "ordinary high watermark." Its policy was based on the Supreme Court's public trust doctrine, which Ohio and Michigan adopted decades ago.

That position, supported by environmental groups and sportsmen, was softened July 13 by Gov. Ted Strickland, who said he would yield to whatever is outlined in property deeds while waiting for courts to sort out the dispute.

Judge Lucci's ruling states that Ohio "has ownership in trust of the waters of Lake Erie and the land beneath those waters landward as far as the water's edge, but no farther."

Larry Mitchell, president of the League of Ohio Sportsmen, said the decision is disappointing and confusing because it suggests the boundary changes with wave action.

"It says that the boundary for upland property adjoining the lake is neither the high watermark, the state's position [under Mr. Taft], nor the low watermark, the upland owners' position. Instead, according to the ruling, the boundary is wherever the water meets the land, changing day by day and minute by minute," he said.

State Sen. Tim Grendell (R., Chesterland), a lawyer who specializes in property rights, called the ruling "well-reasoned and fully developed."

"Judge Lucci rejected the efforts by some special interest groups to steal private property along Lake Erie's shore," he said.

"The decision affirms what we have said all along; there are no public trust beaches in Ohio. The public's rights start and end with the water," according to Mr. Grendell.

Tony Yankel, Ohio Lakefront Group president, said he hopes the ruling "puts an end to this ridiculous government taking of private property."

"It has been disturbing to actually witness the state of Ohio simply invalidating deeds because a few bureaucrats decided to ignore the law and rewrite history," Mr. Yankel said.

Andy Buchsbaum, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office in Ann Arbor, said the decision "privatizes the Lake Erie shoreline."

He cited a 2005 Michigan Supreme Court ruling which asserted the public trust went up to the high watermark.

"We are confident that the higher courts in Ohio will affirm the public's rights to Lake Erie and its shoreline up to the ordinary high watermark," Mr. Buchsbaum said.

Jack Shaner, Ohio Environmental Council spokesman, said the ruling will be used for "legislative mischief" that benefits a small group trying "to cast a wide net in hopes of snaring unabridged new development rights to fill and build structures and place more fences along the shore without state oversight."

Anonymous

Greedy,Grabby,Spoiled,Self-Entitled. These folks with more dollars than sense are going to raise a fuss if you walk along the Lake Erie shoreline. Why? BECAUSE IT'S THEIRS, NOT YOURS, THEY PAID GOOD MONEY FOR IT!!NYAAH,NYAHH,NYAAH! The public doesn't want to walk in your backyard, they want to walk along the shore. If you built your house so close to the lake that it would constitute your backyard, you must be a fool, with the kind of weather the lake whips up. So, share with the rest of us. You took the view of the lake away from the public when you put up your monstrosity of a house. If we, the public, your neighbors, are willing to peaceably walk past it on the lakeshore, doing your property no harm, what is the harm? Or is it just because you are who you are? (See Above)