Cleveland Plain Dealer Letter to the Editor Published Monday, July 12, 2010

In a recent Plain Dealer article, environmental activists tried to connect a U.S. Supreme Court decision about property rights along Florida’s coast to an ongoing Ohio legal battle. They argued the court’s decision affects the property rights of Ohioans who own land along the Lake Erie shoreline.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that state law is paramount in matters of private property rights. The governing law and circumstances surrounding each case are different.

Florida added sand to beaches damaged by hurricanes against the wishes of property owners. Ohio wants to charge private property owners rent for the land their deeds say they already own. Florida law deals with “tidal” water, because Florida abuts the ocean. Accordingly, Florida’s private property extends only to the “mean high tide mark.” Ohio law deals with nontidal water; Lake Erie does not have a tide. Ohio law says private property extends to the “water’s edge.”

That’s why the Ohio Lakefront Group has won its class-action lawsuit in the Common Pleas and Appeals courts. We are confident that the Ohio Supreme Court will concur. Florida’s laws are different. And Ohio’s laws are clear, despite the activists’ deceptive efforts to muddy the waters.

Tony Yankel, Bay Village

Yankel is the president of the Ohio Lakefront Group.