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Roadway Complicated Riparian Access Case

Chris Frescoln, Esq.

Lake Avenue, located on Shafer Lake in Van Buren County, was the subject of dispute in the recently decided Michigan Court of Appeals case. The 149 foot stretch was created by Walter and Evelyn Kozelink in 1947 and was dedicated to "the use of the owners of lots."

Owners of the backlots, lots not adjacent to the water and with no riparian rights, believed that, because of the dedication of the roadway, they had the right to install docks, boat hoists, and tethers along the lake front to permanently or seasonally moor their boats.

In June 2013, plaintiffs James O'Neill, Edward Verdino and Leigh Verdino sued their backlot neighbors for improper use of Lake Avenue.

Plaintiffs alleged that they were riparian owners and that using Lake Avenue for docks and hoists was an improper use.

On many of the issues, the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court as it upheld many of the previous rulings. On the major issue, the Court of Appeals decided that the private road could not be used by back lotters for dockage as the dedication language of the road "to the use of" generally meant access only.

If you or a family member have a lakefront property and are involved in a dispute, Chris Frescoln and Jim Pelland are the guys to call. They have handled these complex issues and can assure your rights are protected.

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