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Riparian Rights

  • Is Your Neighbor’s Dock on Your Property?

    April 24, 2017

    Each year riparians seem to acquire new water toys. Because the lake has not gotten any bigger, conflicts often result as the near-shore space gets crowded. In Michigan, one who owns land on an inland lake (a "riparian") owns the adjacent riparian bottomlands to the center of the lake. Unlike upland areas, there are no legal descriptions to precisely identify those riparian bottomlands. 

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  • No Prescriptive Rights Arise from Misuse of Dedicated Area

    September 1, 2016

    In 2012 the Michigan Legislature passed PA 56 in an attempt to stop the misappropriation of public road ends by private individuals. Though PA 56 carries criminal penalties, a recent Court of Appeals decision reflects that abuses continue.

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  • I Sued My Neighbor and Lost My Dock

    November 18, 2015

    Occasionally I get a call from someone that begins with "I need to sue my neighbor." What the caller really needs is advice to understand the options available, the risks, and how best to solve the problem which prompted the call. If you start with the idea that a fight is your best alternative, you may needlessly make matters worse.

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  • But I’ve Always Had a Dock on the Easement

    August 13, 2015

    For decades Michigan courts have been called upon to decide whether a waterfront easement, platted way, or similar access device permits the user to exercise riparian rights. After thousands of such cases you may think the law is clear, making a return to the courts unnecessary. You would be wrong.

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  • A “Magnificently Convoluted and Contentious” Plat

    March 26, 2015

    A 14-year lawsuit provides cautionary lessons to anyone considering purchasing waterfront property.

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  • Ownership of Michigan Islands

    November 17, 2014

    Big or small, islands are often used by members of the boating public for sunbathing or other recreation. The public may not understand that islands, though surrounded by water accessible to the public, are not public property. Those not respecting the private property rights of an island owner could face civil or criminal liability for trespass. 

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