Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lakefront group slams ODNR in high court case

By RICHARD PAYERCHIN
rpayerchin@MorningJournal.com

COLUMBUS — An Ohio Lakefront Group slammed the state’s latest arguments in a shoreline property dispute that is pending at the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is arguing Lake Erie and its shoreline should be open for the people of Ohio, according to a brief filed by Attorney General Richard Cordray.

However, the 7,000-member Ohio Lakefront Group said the case is about private property not public access.

“This case in Ohio 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,” OLG 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.”

Cordray states in the brief, though, that, “The State does not seek to take anyone’s land; it simply asks the court to re-affirm the centuries-old definition of the Lake and the public trust, to restore a balance of everyone’s overlapping rights.”

The OLG will file a legal response in court later this year, but the group did not want to wait until then to respond in the court of public opinion, Yankel said.

Ohio’s High Court is considering the legal fight between shoreline property owners and state officials who each claim ownership of the beach between Lake Erie’s high and low water marks in Ohio’s eight shoreline counties, including Lorain and Erie counties.

State natural resources officials have claimed everything up to the high water mark, or essentially beach area, is public territory.

Shoreline residents have argued they own that land if their deeds describe their property as extending down to the Lake Erie waterline. Residents note they pay property taxes on land the state claims is public.

An earlier ruling by the 11th District Court of Appeals set the boundary of lakefront property at the water’s edge and said the state did not have the right to participate in the case. Cordray last October said he would ask the Ohio Supreme Court to review that case.

The state’s brief is posted at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/tempx/669179.pdf.

To learn more about the Ohio Lakefront Group, see https://www.ohiolakefrontgroup.com/.

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