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Ohio Lakefront Group Annual Meeting – Thursday May 24, 2012

Mark your calendar for our upcoming meeting.

Thursday May 24th
Holiday Inn West
1100 Crocker Road
Westlake, Ohio
(This is the usual location for our meeting.)
Registration begins at 6:30PM.
Meeting begins at  7:00 PM

As we await any action by ODNR from the Ohio Supreme Court Decision, we continue discussions with ODNR and the Ohio Attorney General’s  office. In the 5 months since the Ohio Supreme Court decision in our favor, there has been no real action by the ODNR. The case was remanded to Judge Lucci’s Court for final disposition of actions.
At Judge Lucci’s direction OLG has been meeting with ODNR and the Attorney General’s office. Progress toward any real change has been slow.

You need to attend this meeting to learn about our ongoing efforts to implement this decision. There is considerable work still ahead. Our foes continue to think that they can walk on our land.

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OLG Supreme Court Remand Update

We reported earlier that on December 13th, Judge  Lucci issued an order requiring our attorneys and  the state to discuss resolving or narrowing the  remaining outstanding issues after the Supreme  Court decision. A 60 day window was set to  complete this process.
Our attorneys provided a detailed proposal to the  State on November 9th.  Following discussions,  including phones calls with ODNR attorneys and a  face to face meeting with ODNR and its attorneys, the state replied in writing on January 30.As very little progress was made in our discussions with the ODNR and the AG, on February 3rd, we requested that Judge Lucci set a schedule for the remainder of the lawsuit.

ODNR has now requested that we once again engage in settlement talks for another 30 day period.

As recent communications with ODNR suggest that this second set of talks may be more fruitful, we and the ODNR are going to request a 30-day extension from Judge Lucci.  If these discussions are not productive, we will have only lost 30 days, and will move forward as expeditiously as possible to recover our legal fees and damages.

Because the nature of these talks is highly confidential, we cannot report any detail about what is discussed.  In fact, even Judge Lucci is not made aware of any of the specific discussions.  If we reach an agreement with the ODNR, only then would Judge Lucci be informed of the agreement.

Rest assured that as soon as we can report more to you, we will.

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Progress of Lawsuit since Supreme Court Decision?

What is happening with the Supreme Court remand to Judge Lucci’s Common Pleas Court?

Lake Erie Shoreline

On December 13th, Judge Lucci issued an order requiring our attorneys and the state to discuss resolving or narrowing the remaining outstanding issues after the Supreme Court decision. A 60 day window was set to complete this process.
Our attorneys provided a detailed proposal to the state on November 9th.  Following discussions, including phones calls with ODNR attorneys and a face to face meeting with ODNR and its attorneys, the state replied in writing on January 30, and our attorneys replied in writing on February 3.  Significant issues remain unresolved.  Our attorneys have advised the State that, while the Ohio Lakefront Group remains interested in continuing settlement discussions, a case schedule should be established.

In a letter to Judge Lucci our attorneys requested that a case management conference be scheduled to consider and set a case schedule.

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Statements Filed to Judge Lucci’s Court

The OLG brief presented two important issues:

1. Based on the Appeal Court and Supreme Court decision, the description of the boundary should be changed to read: “The natural shoreline is a moving boundary located at the line where the water would be on any given day, between the ordinary high and low water marks, except for natural disturbances such as storm surges, wind tides, seiches and harbor resonance.  The natural shoreline is not an “ordinary” water line or a fixed line of elevation.  The line moves throughout the year based on seasonal variations in lake levels.  The line also moves based on long term changes to the land caused by erosion and accretion and long term changes to water levels caused by submergence and reliction.  In other words, the natural shoreline is the line between what is usually non-submerged land and what is usually submerged land on any given day.”

2. A statement regarding property boundaries should read:  “Property descriptions in deeds of littoral owners are presumptively valid, including without limitation metes and bounds descriptions.  The presumption that deeds are valid is only the first step in determining the location of the natural shoreline for a particular property, which must also include a presumption that any shore recession was caused by avulsion.  When land abutting Lake Erie is stripped away by avulsion, the natural shoreline remains fixed at its last location prior to the avulsion and the littoral owner may reclaim all land so lost between the water’s edge and the natural shoreline.  Thus, the presence of fill also is not determinative of the natural shoreline because fill placed landward of the natural shoreline is privately owned and does not affect the natural shoreline.  As a result, ODNR’s use of aerial photographs to determine the natural shoreline at a given point in time lacks any sound basis because it fails to account for avulsive losses.”

The Statement can be reviewed by clicking OLG Statement to Court

The State and NWF filed joint briefs consisting basically of two issues:

1. Seek a judgment declaring that each of the named Plaintiffs in this action and in Taft, who are now Intervening Plaintiffs in this case, arc required to obtain authorization from the State pursuant to Ohio law – R.C. 1506.11 and the administrative regulations promulgated thereunder – for any improvement:i or developments of Plaintiffs that extend beyond “the natural shoreline” of Lake Erie. (This is changing from the OHWM.)

2.  OLG claims for “fees” will be disputed by the State Defendants, and discovery and evidentiary hearing will be required for determination and resolution of those claims and issues.

The Statement can be reviewed by clickingState and NWF Statement to Court

A Separate Statement by the NWF and OEC basically said that all issues were resolved by the Supreme Court and that no issues remain, except that of the request for Fees by OLG.

The Statement can be reviewed by clicking  NWF OEC Statement to Court

Intervening Plaintiff, Homer S. Taft statement included the following requests to the Court:

1. ODNR should be enjoined from claiming ownership or control of any land along Lake Erie that is within the legal deed of the private owner, unless it is able to be proved by ODNR that the deed is faulty.

2. ODNR should void all leases that are below the OHWM and within the deed of the private property owner, that have clouded the deed of the property.

3. ODNR should be enjoined to respect all littoral rights of private property owners.

The Statement can be reviewed by clicking Intervening Plaintiffs Taft Statement

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