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General Assembly Acts on Lake Legislation before Wrapping Up for the Session

The Ohio General Assembly is expected to wrap up its work this week. Both the Ohio House and Senate have tentatively scheduled a session day on December 27th, with the stated purpose of overriding some expected vetoes by the Governor.  After that, the legislature is expected to adjourn. Newly elected and re-elected members will be sworn into office and a new General Assembly will convene in early January. All pending legislation that has not been enacted will have to be re-introduced and start the legislative process all over again.

One of the last bills passed by the current General Assembly has special interest to Ohio Lakefront Group members: Senate Bill 51. SB 51 is expected to be signed into law. Although numerous provisions (predominantly capital expenditures unrelated to the original proposal) were added to the bill, those of the most interest to OLG members would expand the scope of public improvements that may be funded and completed by a special improvement district (SID) to include shoreline improvement projects along Lake Erie.

A SID is an economic development tool that may be used to facilitate the development and implementation of services within a defined district located within one or more cities, villages, or townships. The improvements and services are funded through a special assessment levied against property in the district. The SID is administered by the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation that is created for the purpose of governing the district. Simplified, a SID would allow property owners to band together to form a public-private partnership for the purposes of lakefront repairs, improvements, and protection. Supporters of the bill are hopeful that creation of a SID could allow property owners to take on restoration and protection efforts that are immediately necessary as a group, financed over up to 30 years. Unlike most other SIDs, those for coastal management purposes must have the consent of 100% of impacted property owners.

Once the Governor has signed the bill (and assuming he does), the Ohio Lakefront Group will work with local groups and local governments to disseminate additional information for those interested in forming a SID.

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Where there is Public Access to Lake Erie

There are 116 coastal recreational access locations along Ohio’s 312-mile Lake Erie coast. Combined, these public areas consist of 41.7 miles of accessible shore, approximately 13 percent of the entire coast.

The points were identified and field-checked in 2005 by the Office of Coastal Management. Erie County has the most publicly accessible recreation areas with 25 locations, followed by Cuyahoga and Lake counties (21 each), Ottawa County (17), Lorain County (13), Ashtabula County (11), Lucas County (7), and Sandusky County (1).

These 116 coastal recreational locations are owned by the public and are managed and policed by government entities (Federal, State/ODNR/County, Municipal).

  • There are 152 Public Ramp Sites.
  • There are 312 Boat Access Sites.

It is noteworthy that the 41+ miles of publicly accessible recreation areas require citizens to abide by restrictions of time of day, season, and regulation. ODNR employees, Metro Park Rangers, Sheriffs, and local police these areas.

The public use of our beaches has provided none of the above restrictions as to time of day, litter, criminal behavior, etc.

This runs counter to the misinformation that private property owners are stealing from the people of Ohio.

This publication is available on a DVD that they have been distributing it for two years. It is an excellent publication and interesting from many aspects.

This Atlas is available on line or is available on DVD by contacting the OCM at:

Office of Coastal Management

105 West Shoreline Drive

Sandusky, OH 44870

419-626-7980

1-888-OhioCMP

Fax: 419-626-7983

coastal@dnr.state.oh.us

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Tony Yankel on the Big Outdoors radio show – WLW AM 700 Cincinnati

Ohio Lakefront Group President Tony Yankel recently discussed the group’s ongoing legal battle over the state’s improper taking of their deeded land on the Big Outdoors radio show, WLW AM 700 Cincinnati.

During the interview, Yankel and program hosts Chip Hart and Rick Combs discuss how the Ohio Lakefront Group’s case – currently before the Ohio Supreme Court – could impact property rights along Ohio lakes, rivers and streams. The program aired on November 27, 2010.

Listen to the interview here:

Big_Outdoors_Radio_112710.mp3

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Lake Erie Residents Defend Property Rights Before Ohio Supreme Court

Former Attorney General Betty Montgomery; 13 Groups Side With Property Owners in Court Filings

Sheffield Lake, OH – The Ohio Lakefront Group, a coalition of over 7,000 Lake Erie property owners, yesterday filed written arguments in the Ohio Supreme Court in its ongoing action against the state of Ohio’s unlawful and uncompensated taking of privately owned land. The property owners were joined by former Attorney General Betty Montgomery and 13 independent groups, who filed amicus briefs in support of the property owners’ legal arguments.

The property owners asked the Ohio Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, which restored their legal property rights and rebuked the state. The appeals court – upholding nearly 200 years of legal precedent – ruled that shoreline residents’ deeded property claims are valid. In many cases, the deeded property extends to the water’s edge and pre-date Ohio statehood. Further, the appeals court said the state acted improperly and without legal authority in taking deeded land without properly compensating property owners.

“We respectfully ask the high court to end the injustice created by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ and Attorney General Richard Cordray’s rejection of our private property rights,” said Ohio Lakefront Group President Tony Yankel. “Mr. Cordray and state officials have refused to accept prior court rulings and the written legal opinions of former Ohio attorneys general Betty Montgomery and Lee Fisher. The state is trying to rewrite our deeds at the expense of our legal rights and without legislative approval.”

Former Attorney General Betty Montgomery advised the high court that during her tenure as attorney general she issued an opinion addressing the state’s ownership of Lake Erie lakeward of the “natural shoreline,” which moves with the water’s edge – bolstering the property owners’ legal arguments. “I have an interest in ensuring that the opinions issued by the Attorney General’s office are given due weight as persuasive authority in Ohio, and also in protecting the private property rights of Ohio’s citizens,” former Attorney General Montgomery wrote in her amicus brief.

In addition, Ms. Montgomery noted that former Attorney General Lee Fisher’s opinion issued in 1993, as well as her current amicus filing, is consistent with the Eleventh District Appellate Court’s ruling.

Joining Attorney General Montgomery in filing amicus briefs were: the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; National Federation of Independent Business; Cleveland Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8 jointly with the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association; the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law; Brookwood-Cresthaven Beach Club, Inc. jointly with the Linwood Park Company; Ohio Association of REALTORS, jointly with the Willo-Beach Park Association, Inc; Geauga Constitutional Council; Pacific Legal Foundation; Save Our Shoreline (Michigan); and Southeastern Legal Foundation, Inc.

Ohio law and past legal precedents say the state’s interest in the waters and submerged lands of Lake Erie does not extend beyond the water’s edge. However, under a controversial action initiated by former Gov. Bob Taft and pursued by former Attorney General Marc Dann, the state sought to claim the land along the Lake Erie shoreline for its own purposes. Property owners brought legal action against the state and were successful in federal court, common pleas court and the court of appeals. Former Attorney General Dann appealed the case to the Court of Appeals. Attorney General Cordray is continuing the Dann case.

“Mr. Cordray wants us to pay rent to the state for land our deeds say we already own,” said Yankel. “If he is successful, what will the state attempt to take next?”

Also filing Merit Briefs as individuals whose cases were combined with the OLG Class Action were Homer S. Taft;

L. Scot and Darla J. Duncan

Following are copies of filings made with the Ohio Supreme Court yesterday in support of the Ohio Lakefront Group.

Ohio Lakefront Group merit brief

Homer S. Taft Merit brief

L. Scot and Darla J. Duncan Merit Brief

Amicus Briefs:

Former Attorney General Betty Montgomery

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation

National Federation of Independent Small Business

Cleveland Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8 jointly with the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association

1851 Center for Constitutional Law

Ohio Association of REALTORS jointly with the Willo-Beach Park Association, Inc., Brookwood-Cresthaven Beach Club, Inc. and the Linwood Park Company

Geauga Constitutional Council

Pacific Legal Foundation

Save Our Shoreline (Michigan)

Southeastern Legal Foundation, Inc.

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