REAL ESTATE 27: Subdivision dispute over riparian rights.

The individuals involved in this action are all owners of lots in the Park Subdivision. The subdivision was platted in 1917 and consists of 26 lots, a street, and a park that abuts a Lake. This case involves a dispute over riparian rights. Defendants (collectively the front-lot owners) appeal as of right the trial court’s order denying defendants’ motion for summary disposition, declaring as a matter of law under MCR 2.116(I)(1) that all lot owners in the Park Subdivision have a use easement in the platted park but no riparian rights, and dismissing all remaining claims as moot.

All of the individual plaintiffs (collectively the back-lot owners) own back lots. The back lots are separated from the Lake by both the front lots and the park. None of the back lots border the park or the lake.

In 2017, a dispute developed between the front-lot owners and back-lot owners over the use of the park and, specifically, rights to install docks and moor boats. The front-lot owners maintained that they exclusively owned the riparian rights in the park and that the back-lot owners only had an easement permitting them to use the park for customary park purposes that did not include the right to install docks or moor watercraft overnight or seasonally.

Plaintiffs, which included the back-lot owners and the Park Subdivision Association, filed a lawsuit seeking (1) a declaratory judgment that all subdivision lot owners held equal and coextensive rights regarding the ownership and use of the park and (2) to quiet title in favor of all lot owners with a declaration that all lot owners held fee simple title to the park.

When a person purchases property that is recorded in a plat, the purchaser receives both the interest described in the deed and the rights indicated in the plat.  The court’s task when interpreting a plat is to give effect to the plattor’s intent, and unambiguous language in a legal instrument is enforced as written.

A parcel is considered riparian land if it includes therein a part of or is bounded by a natural water course.  Owners of riparian land hold certain exclusive rights, including the right to erect and maintain docks, as well as to permanently anchor boats off the shore. The plat in the instant case shows that the eastern boundary of each front lot abuts the western boundary of the park and that the front lots thus do not extend any further east. The area of land designated as a park is situated between the front lots and the lake, with the eastern edge of the park abutting the lake. Hence, the front lots in this case are not riparian in the ordinary sense and do not satisfy this general definition of riparian land. Generally, it is an indispensable requisite that riparian land actually touches the water.

However, there are exceptions.  The possession of riparian rights by owners of property separated from the shoreline by only a road or walkway is grounded in the legal principles generally applicable to owners of property abutting roads. This rule is not based on the mere fact that such a property owner is closer to the water than the owner of what may be called a “back lot.”

The Court noted that the undisputed evidence that the original plattor had supplied the park with electricity, portable toilets, and picnic tables supported the conclusion that the original plattor intended to retain general control and, accordingly, ownership of the park.

The trial court determined that the plat dedication granted an easement to use the park to all of the lot owners and did not grant riparian rights to any lot owners.

Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking an efficient and effective resolution to a property litigation matter? Our lawyers represent clients in a wide range of real estate litigation.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

5 Necessary Sections Your Prenuptial Agreement Needs

Many big decisions come with getting engaged. Planning for marriage can be exciting and romantic, although the thought of adding a prenuptial agreement may not stoke your passion, they can help you now and in the future. Prenuptial agreements are...

REAL ESTATE 32: Plaintiffs and defendants executed a second easement.

Plaintiffs requested that the trial court, either through reformation of the First Easement or interpretation of the Second Easement, quiet title in favor of plaintiffs and declare them to be the owners of an easement to access Lake Superior through the ravine on defendants’ property, enjoin defendants from interfering with their use of the easement, and order compensation for damages to the stairs.

LITIGATION 4: Plaintiff claimed installation of hardwood flooring breached the condo bylaws.

Defendants completed the project. Plaintiff did not pay for any of the costs of the project. Defendants moved to compel plaintiff to pay one-half of the costs under the agreement. Plaintiff responded that defendants had materially breached the agreement in several ways, including by denying her the right to supervise the project, by refusing to give her an installation schedule, and by starting work before plaintiff approved of the start date.

FAMILY LAW 30: Discretionary trust assets cannot be reached to satisfy claims for child support and alimony.

The key difference between discretionary trusts, support trusts, and spendthrift trusts is that creditors cannot compel the trustee of a discretionary trust to pay any part of the income or principal in order that the creditors may be paid. The opposite is true of spendthrift and support trusts, which allow trust assets to be reached to satisfy creditors, including creditors seeking to satisfy claims for child support and alimony.

An Easy Guide to Navigate the Probate Process

Families can help each other through life’s toughest moments. However, issues come up when the strain of losing a loved one combines with the stress of honoring their last wishes. Probate protects beneficiaries best interests. Though...

Top 3 Misconceptions on Power of Attorney

Considering leaving the country for a long time while maintaining a business or selling a home in the US? Were you recently diagnosed with a terminal or degenerative disease? For these and many other issues, it may become necessary for someone...

FAMILY LAW 29: Quitclaim deed signed after prenuptial agreement prevails.

The court ruled that title to the land prevails and that once the deed was signed, the property became the undivided whole interest for both the decedent and appellee and became appellee’s property upon the decedent’s death. Consequently, the court concluded that the prenuptial agreement did not have any impact on the property rights of appellee in this case.

Know the Differences between Annulment and Divorce

  Marriage can end through two ways: divorce and annulment. Though both of these options have the same result, each has different requirements. There are many similarities and differences between a divorce and an annulment, so many...

Understanding Vaping Laws for Minors

  Vaping is a fad that is quickly solidifying into a stable industry of products around the world. Vaping and electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) use have dramatically increased from roughly “seven million [users] in 2011 to 35...

Michigans New Marijuana Laws

The 2018 ballot initiative titled “the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) passed with 56% of the vote. Michigan joins nine states and D.C. in legalizing some form of recreational marijuana use.  Due to the...

Cyberbullying Is Now A Punishable Crime In Michigan

Beginning in March 2019, cyberbullying will now be illegal in the state of Michigan. The House Bill 5017 now makes cyberbullying a punishable crime by Michigan law, meaning that those who harass others online could face potential jail...

The Difference Between Theft, Robbery and Burglary

Often, burglary, robbery, and theft are used interchangeably even though there are distinct differences between all of them. Though, what all three do have in common is they may involve the unlawful taking of someone’s personal property by...

Do I Have To Go To Court If I Get A Divorce?

If you’re contemplating a divorce in Michigan, you probably have a lot of questions. One of the most intimidating aspects of getting a divorce in Michigan or anywhere else is the idea of having to appear in court. The laws for getting a...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000