Court of Appeals Decides Case Regarding Land Use Adjacent to Indiana Lake

The Indiana Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a property and land-use dispute concerning rights of access to Webster Lake in Kosciusko County, Indiana, an issue which has been the subject of litigation ongoing for more than twenty-six (26) years. At issue was the appropriate interpretation of the trial court’s prior orders regarding the rights of access to the lake by lakefront (onshore) and non-lakefront (offshore) property owners and the trial court’s grant of authority to, and adoption of rules promulgated by, a development corporation overseeing and administering the respective rights of access of the lakefront and non-lakefront property owners.

The present litigation began after a lakefront property owner requested and was granted permission from the development corporation to install a second boat lift, requiring a non-lakefront property owner with an adjacent pier to remove their pier. The non-lakefront property owners filed a civil lawsuit and obtained a preliminary injunction against the development corporation. The trial court found in favor of the non-lakefront property owners, and the present appeal ensued, with the development corporation arguing that the location of the lakefront property owners’ pier within its assignment and pursuant to the trial court’s prior orders necessitated removal of the non-lakefront property owners’ pier, without regard to the permanent nature of the established pier assignments.

The Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed and found in favor of the non-lakefront property owners, consistent with the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions thereon, including the trial court’s finding that both onshore and offshore pier assignments were permanent and that the lakefront property owners’ desire to install a second boat lift was not a “substantial change of circumstances” making the prior established pier assignment unreasonable under the facts and circumstances.

You can read the entire Indiana Court of Appeals opinion here:

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