Michigan Court Rules that Public Has Right to Walk along Great Lakes Beaches
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. People can stroll along Michigan's 3,200 miles of Great Lakes beaches whether lakefront property owners like it or not, the state Supreme Court ruled.
The court on Friday unanimously sided with Joan M. Glass, who sued her neighbors over access to the Lake Huron waterfront. The neighbors said she was trespassing.
The justices disagreed over the appropriate boundary of the public area, but a five-member majority held that the public can wander anywhere between the water's edge and the ordinary high water mark.
The decision overturned an appeals court ruling that the state owns that land -- but that owners of adjacent property have exclusive use of it and can kick others out.
"It's a tremendous victory for the public interest and for Michigan's economy, much of which is based on tourism and access to Great Lakes beaches," said Keith Schneider, deputy director of the Michigan Land Use Institute.
"The bottom line is there's this stretch the public has the right to use," said Pamela Burt, attorney for Glass.
Ernie Krygier, president of Save Our Shoreline, a lakefront property rights group, said the group's board would meet to consider its options.
About 70 percent of Michigan's shoreline on lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie is privately owned, according to the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental group.
Source: Associated Press