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Recent CADDNAR Decisions

Morton v. Shank (22-027W) 16 CADDNAR 29 (2023)

In this riparian dispute, the Natural Resources Commission determined that the holder of an easement approximately 6.5 feet in width could maintain a pier lakeward of the easement. However, the riparian zone associated with the easement was not sufficiently wide to moor a boat to the pier.

Teska v. DNR (23-026W) 16 CADDNAR 28 (2023)

Petitioners asked the Natural Resources Commission to force the Department of Natural Resources to issue a declaratory judgment determining Petitioners’ riparian area, declaring Petitioners’ exclusive right to use that riparian area, and preventing unknown third parties from mooring watercraft and/or building docks and piers in Petitioners’ riparian area. Part of that declaratory judgment would have been affirming Petitioners’ ownership of the land underneath, and thus the riparian area associated with, Lake Shore Drive in the Petitioners’ subdivision. In a motion for summary judgment, the Department of Natural Resources argued that such a declaration would amount to the Natural Resources Commission issuing an order determining landward property rights, something outside the Commission’s jurisdiction. On review, the Administrative Law Judge granted the Department’s motion for summary judgment and found that 1. The Commission may consider established landward rights, but not create or affirm them without significant documentation, when rendering decisions; and 2. Even if the Commission were to grant Petitioners’ request, Petitioners would essentially gain no relief by the issuing of the declaratory judgment.

City of New Albany v. Ecosystems Connections Institute, LLC & DNR (21-027W) 16 CADDNAR 27 (2023)

This appeal involved a permit issued by the Department to ECI for the removal of a low head dam located in Silver Creek.  The Commission granted summary judgment in favor of ECI and the Department, finding the undisputed evidence established that the Department had complied with the requirements of the Flood Control Act in issuing the permit.

Bruick, et al. v. Ohio Consumer Credit, et al. (21-002W) 16 CADDNAR 26 (2023)

Petitioners requested that the Commission review their deeded easement over Respondent’s property and determine what, if any, riparian rights Petitioners were entitled to enjoy. Petitioners argued that they had a prescriptive easement granting riparian rights to place a pier into Snow Lake due to years of continuous placement of a pier on Snow Lake. Respondents argued that the easement was merely a “walking easement,” which granted Petitioners only the right to access Snow Lake without granting the right to build a maintain a pier. The ALJ found that Petitioners did not have a prescriptive easement as they did not satisfy all the requirements listed in Fraley v. Minger, 829 N.E.2d 476 (Ind. 2005), and thus were not entitled to place a pier on the easement into Snow Lake, but that Petitioners did have a “walking easement” granting access to Snow Lake.

Frisinger v. Holderman, et al. (22-060W) 16 CADDNAR 25 (2023)

Petitioners believed that Respondents had placed a pier into Loon Lake that infringed on Petitioners’ riparian zone. Petitioners believed that their riparian line extended out into the middle of Loon Lake. Respondents argued that their pier was fully in their riparian zone as they believed the riparian zone was pie shaped due to both Respondents’ and Petitioners’ properties sitting on a rounded bay. The Administrative Law Judge found that the area in which the parties’ properties are located is a rounded bay and that the riparian zones should be pie-shaped, but also found that an exact determination of those riparian zones could not be determined without a riparian survey. The Administrative Law Judge further ordered that, once the exact riparian boundaries are determined, both parties’ piers must be fully in their respective riparian zones.

West & Wallace v. Leazier (22-061W) 16 CADDNAR 24 (2023)

Petitioners own real property contained within the plat to the North Shore Addition to Tri-Lake Resort Company. Petitioners’ real property does not abut Shriner Lake.  However, Petitioners obtained a non-exclusive easement over a 1.87-acre tract of property located between Petitioners’ properties and Shriner Lake.  By order of the Steuben County Circuit Court, Petitioners were granted an easement that included the right to a extend a pier into Shriner Lake from the Easement.  The court order did not specify a location from which Petitioners could extend their pier. Petitioner West maintained a pier approximately 150 feet from his property line within the easement.  He asserted he should be able to extend his pier directly across from his property, where the respondents pier was located.  West’s request to order respondents to move respondents’ pier so West could place his pier in that location was denied because the evidence did not show that West had been granted an easement specific to that location.