Court rules against Long Beach lakefront property owners

2013-12-30T16:52:00Z 2013-12-31T00:02:07Z Court rules against Long Beach lakefront property ownersStan Maddux Times Correspondent
December 30, 2013 4:52 pm  • 

LAPORTE | Some disgruntled lakefront property owners in Long Beach must continue to deal with the general public enjoying the water's edge on land they argue belongs to them.

LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos has ruled in favor of a resolution adopted in 2012 by the town designating public use between the water's edge and the "ordinary high water mark" of Lake Michigan.

The lawsuit was filed by the Long Beach Homeowners Assocation and two private lakefront property owners, Margaret West and Don Gunderson.

In her written arguments to the court, West states she and her adult children have been "harrassed" by the police for doing things like having dogs and drinking beer from bottles on what she contends is her property.

Dogs and glass are not allowed on the public beaches there.

The plaintiffs argued the deeds to their properties specify ownership of the land extends to the water's edge "without any public rights boundary."

They also alleged the town carried out a land grab by granting public use of the area between the edge of the water and the ordinary high water mark.

In his ruling, though, Alevizos cited several prior court rulings dating back to the late 1800s and as recently as the 1970s that designate the state as owners of the land on Lake Michigan between the ordinary high water mark and edge of the water.

Alevizos also ruled the town did not take or steal anyone's property.

He said the resolution just reflected the policy of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources that its jurisdiction runs from the water to the ordinary high water mark.

In his written arguments, Gunderson said people in "large numbers" gather just off the water's edge especially on summer holidays taking away from "the ambiance of owning and enjoying lakefront property."

Another resident who lives 500 yards away from the lakefront, Roger Gansauer, told the court in writing the strip between the water's edge and private property left open to the public increase property values by allowing everyone in the town and their guests to enjoy the lakefront.

Without such access, Gansauer said he probably would have purchased a second home in Michigan or somewhere else on a golf course.

Alevizos in his decision said the issue might be best settled by the Indiana Court of Appeals or some other higher court.

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