Drawing Their Line in the Sand

Beach front battle

The beach is one of the earth’s most mesmerizing and extraordinary gifts.  While some beaches are privately owned and shielded from public use, others require a fee to enjoy or are just free to access.  For those who own beach or lakefront properties, watching locals or tourists flooding your view of the lake or ocean is imaginably undesirable.  On the other hand, locals and tourists want to gain entry to some of the best coastal fishing, surfing, or sunbathing spots.  These two points of view is what fueled a 2018 lawsuit and eventual decision by the Indiana Supreme Court, granting public entry to Lake Michigan’s shoreline.          

The owners of Lake Michigan’s lakefront properties are now taking legal action, challenging the Indiana Supreme Court decision and looking to have it overturned.  Lakefront owners argue that this statewide easement infringes on their rights to their own property, without proper reimbursement.  In their eyes, their properties run from their structural homes to the edge of the water. According to the 2018 ruling, however, the high water mark serves as the separation between what the state owns versus what the property owners possess.  Anything below the high water mark belongs to the state and anything above the mark is kept by private owners.

In response to the recent lawsuit filed by the property owners, the state of Indiana is attempting to have it dismissed.  The property owners only have until March to respond to the state of Indiana’s motion to dismiss.  While property owners insist that lake-goers should be asking permission to walk on what is perceived as their property, the Indiana Attorney General asserts that a federal court cannot step in when locals or tourists walk near the shoreline for pleasure and recreation, a purpose that is not considered to be trespassing.  Those supporting the arguments of the beach walkers agree that these property owners should remain grateful for their claim above the high water mark.  If you are lucky enough to live by the beach, sometimes you are just simply lucky enough.