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Cuyahoga County Proposes connected Lakefront Path

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently reported on a massive proposal by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish to create a “transformative” connected lakefront path from Bay Village to Euclid.
The County is not proposing to take private property, which comprises about 70% of the land area under consideration. Instead, the City plans to follow in the footsteps of Euclid, where private landowners granted public access to their property in return for stabilization of the shoreline along a 3/4 mile trail. The Euclid program cost $12 million. Budish’s team estimates that the project would cost about $15 million per mile. The project is in early stages with Cleveland.comreporting that the County is requesting a $200,000 grant to assist in funding a $500,000 feasibility study. 
The initial wish-list for the project includes things like bike and pedestrian access to bridges, coordination of lakefront access in communities and with other cities, and a change in Ohio law to allow breakwalls to be built into the lake to create a road for ambulances. 
More information on the plan can be found on the Cuyahoga County Executive’s website, including proposed access maps.  The report indicates an extensive opportunity for public hearings and input will be planned. 
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New Threat in Central Basin

With summer upon us and ongoing legislative and administrative discussions related to protecting Lake Erie continuing in Columbus, the Ohio State University’s Stone Lab has released a new study identifying a new algal threat in the central basin of Lake Erie. The presence of the new bacterial causes additional concern because 1) it is also a neurotoxin with severe implications for environment, health, and the lakefront economy, 2) most water treatment facilities do not currently test for it or have the ability to test for it without expensive facility upgrades, and 3) presence of the toxin in the central basin goes against some of the traditional things we’ve come to understand regarding the algal growth- scientists don’t yet understand how it is growing. The study is available to the public but has also been presented in several media stories such as this one in the Akron Beacon Journal and this one in Science Daily.
In a media release, OLG President Tony Yankel pointed out that this news ads a new dimension of urgency to the pleas of lakefront property owners to resolve permitting processes and protect the lake’s shoreline. Yankel stated, “We are closely reviewing the Stone Lab report, which indicates that the muddier waters of the central basin are an underlying cause of this new toxin. This is a strong argument for reducing sediment. In this time of extremely high water, shoreline protection is being destroyed, resulting in unprecedented amounts of land and sediment going into the lake. If ODNR continues to frustrate efforts to permit shoreline protection, nothing will stop the massive amounts of land loss and sedimentation taking place.”

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Latest in Private Property seizure by ODNR

This article is from the Columbus Dispatch:

State tells some Buckeye Lake residents to dismantle parts of homes

By Mary Beth Lane
The Columbus Dispatch

Posted Jan 31, 2018 at 8:02 PM Updated at 5:51 AM

Some Buckeye Lake waterfront homeowners say they were shocked to receive a letter from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources informing them that parts of their property encroach on state land and must be removed.

The letters, sent by certified mail last week, are arriving as the department works to finish its estimated $110 million dam project by the end of the year, about a year ahead of schedule.

The new dam will replace the nearly 200-year-old earthen dam, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found was at significant risk of failure.

But some residents who live along the 4.1-mile dam route said they are finding out only now that the project carries ramifications they didn’t foresee.

Stephen Schilling said he was left “very concerned and stunned” to receive a letter telling him surveyors for the state determined that “a portion” of his two-story house, including the awning as well as his concrete steps and fence, must be removed.

“I have lived here my whole life in that house,” said Schilling, who lives along the lake’s north bank. “I had it surveyed 40 years ago, and the sidewalk was the designated line.”

West bank resident Greg Brewer said he was “devastated” to receive a letter telling him that parts of his house, including some of his roof, his porch and its steps and a stamped concrete pad, were on state property and have to be removed.

 “I would have to tear off the front of my home. I’m probably looking at $150,000 to $200,000” in remodeling, said Brewer, who said he paid $650,000 for the house less than a year ago. “I’ve been sick over it.”

The letters told homeowners they have one year to remove structures encroaching on state land. Alternatively, the letters said, they may pay a one-time, $1,000 fee to lease the state property from the state for five years — but then they must remove the encroachment.

Plans call for the new dam top to be clad in a concrete cap and topped with both grass and a paved path. The path will provide access for dam-safety inspectors and recreation for walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

The design also includes removing the old sidewalk in front of the houses and replacing it with a new one about four feet from the state property line. The new sidewalk is under construction.

The department has sent 12 encroachment notification letters so far and anticipates sending more as officials continue to review property lines, spokesman Matt Eiselstein said. Most of the 12 are in the way of the new sidewalk, he said. 

“We just finished the final survey recently. We got those letters out as quickly as we could,” Eiselstein said.

Rumors are spreading through the area that hundreds of waterfront residents will be told their homes are encroaching on state land. Eiselstein said he didn’t want to guess how many more letters will go out, but he suggested it will not be nearly as many as rumored.

Brewer is among the waterfront homeowners who say they would happily accept an easement or even buy land from the state to have their own front yard.

That is not likely to happen, Eiselstein said.

“They are on state property,” he said. “They built onto a dam. We can’t grant easements or sell property, for dam-safety reasons. It’s important that dam-safety inspectors have access to the whole dam.”

mlane@dispatch.com

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It’s residents vs. AG over property rights

Friday, July 16, 2010

It’s residents vs. AG over property rights

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischkorn@News-Herald.com

Lakeshore property owners are squaring off against Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

At issue is whether the state Attorney General’s Office has legal standing in bringing suit regarding public access to shoreline property along Lake Erie.

That includes property many owners say is theirs and thus is private.

The Ohio Supreme Court is being asked to render a decision on the matter.

This follows a decision by the 11th District Court of Appeals which said the attorney general has no standing in the matter.

That ruling pleased the Ohio Lakefront Property Group, but disappointed Cordray.

The state claims the public has the right to access shoreline property up to the high-water mark.

That position does not sit well with the Lakefront group, which claims the matter starts and stops at the water line.

“This case is not about public access or public rights to the waters of Lake Erie, all of which are secure and none of which are under attack,” Ohio Lakefront Group President Tony Yankel said.

“This case is about private property, and the unjust effort by the state to strip it away from thousands of Ohioans without compensation.”

Yankel charges that Cordray says he is attempting to protect the important resource of Lake Erie for the good of all.

“However, opening all of this privately held land along Lake Erie to uncontrolled public use — which means bonfires, litter and increased crime — will only harm Lake Erie, not protect it. The individuals who choose to live along Lake Erie have the strongest interest in protecting it, not bureaucrats in Columbus,” Yankel said.

Cordray’s brief before the Ohio Supreme Court discusses the legal authority and the traditional duty of the attorney general to defend the state of Ohio when it is sued, which dates back to the 19th century, Cordray says.

“The brief recognizes that private landowners have special rights that should not be unduly restricted by the state, but indicates that those rights should be balanced with the public’s overlapping rights in the territory of Lake Erie,” Cordray said.

Also filing amicus briefs were former Ohio Attorneys General Betty Montgomery, Jim Petro and Nancy Rogers. The former attorneys general outline in their briefs their agreement concerning the current attorney general’s authority and duty to represent the state of Ohio when it is sued.

Additional briefs were filed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the National Wildlife Federation and Ohio Environmental Council.

Additional amicus briefs were filed by the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania as well as by a coalition that includes several former directors of the ODNR and several conservation and sportsmen’s groups.

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