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Newsletter Feedback.... Battle over lake access turns ugly

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Original Article....

Call it The Hundred Year War, Northern Michigan version, one that is heating up and threatening to take casualties. Call it a spat between the haves and the have-nots.

Call it what you will, but the fight between waterfront property owners on Higgins Lake and those on the back lots is getting ugly and has far-reaching implications for the quality of life for many others as well.

Kathy Johnson's family has been enjoying the lake for 60 years. Now four family members have vacation homes in one of the subdivision just off the lake. They spend much of their summer up here, mooring their boats at a nearby road end. It's been a great lifestyle.    more...

Reader's Comment.....

The movement by the HLPOA to close road ends can only be motivated by pure greed. I have been around the lake and have friends on the lake as well as in cabins as close to the lake as I park when I go to a Meijer store. My family has been one of the latter for more than a half century. Recreation at the lake is what has drivin people to invest in such properties. The HLPOA puts up a front that they are pro environment, when in fact they themselves do little to curtail rampant overfertilizing, and the use of outdated septic systems just feet from the lake, and likewise will not achnowledge that the majority of the traffic comes from state parks. I don't want to jump to conlcusions, however I would not put it past this group to commit acts of vandalism in order to portay road ends as choatic uncontrolable hazards, when in fact they are, and have been wonderfull places for families and kids to recreate free from exorbinant expenses, and the bustle of larger cities. These road ends have been vital to my quality of life since I was a toddler. I would not know my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins nearly as well if we did not have this common interest. It is clear (given that nothing was stolen) that the crime that occured this fall was either the result of a disgruntled anti backlotter, or that of they're kids, or passionate friends. Most backlotters I know have led less luxurious lives and appreciate what a priviledge this lake is to everyone who uses it. They take it very personally when those with the means attempt to disenfranchise them from the thing they work so hard all year to enjoy with they're friends and families. This is a story of the have lots and have littles. For many (not all) frontlotters it is not enough that they have they're space to recreate but they feel it is they're duty to make certain others don't. Sharing the lake it simply not something they are able to comprehend. It is a shame this fight has distracted people so much from everyones common interest... Good times, friends and family at the lake. Time to get back to basics and let each other live.

Original Article....



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Yes it is sad that boats were vandalized there is no excuse to break the law. But, why were those private watercraft and boat hoists on PUBLIC roadends in the first place? No no no you can't be fined just for swimming. Remember it is a road for all to use and that means as a road. Once on the water you have it made. I am curious who is really greedy here, someone who bought water rights and paid top dollar for them or someone who decides to help themselves to public roads and public bottomlands when they allegedly aren't being used. You can't take public property even if it's been 100 years. My family had a backlot there since the 30's and when I visited I used the road ends to swim and to moor my boat for the afternoon but we didn't set up private dockage or mini marinas, Good Lord do people really think they can just help themselves to public property? Geez I like to see old faithful in yellowstone why don't I build a cabin or just park my camper on the north hill nobody is gonna mind right? Kinda like someone buying nose bleed tickets for a ball game and then run down to the front row and sitting in any empty seat sound fair and reasonable? Are front lotters greedy or are backlotters so used to the welfare state and getting something for nothing. Yes it is always inexpensive to get something for nothing. That is why there are state parks and boat ramps. HMMMmmm why aren't backlotters setting up their docks and hoists overthere and those public lands? Afterall what's the difference there's more room over there than on a narrow road.12/9/2004 2:44:57 PM
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For those of us who have an interest in a popular recreational lake such as Higgins Lake we can all agree on one thing and that is we definitely have an access problem. The road ends have served as a point where the local back lot property owners have moored their boats for over 100 years. The real issue here is NOT backlotters trying to "take public land for their own private use" I really have to laugh at that one because there has NEVER BEEN A CASE or LAWSUIT filed by a BACKLOTTER attempting to take or own a public road end dedicated to the use of the public for their own private use. In fact, the only individuals attempting to "TAKE PUBLIC PROPERTY" for their own private use are the front lotters in many areas around Higgins Lake that have filed law suits to try to take adverse possession of the road ends in an attempt to close them down permanently from the public and to also financially gain the prize of 10,000-12,000 per square foot of deeded real estate for them selves to boot at the expense of the public. NOW THAT is the real crime. Since the front lotters, or the front lotters that are members of the HLPOA, were unsuccessful in their attempt to gain adverse possession of the road ends they have come up with the clever arguement that select members of the public (backlotters) are taking public land for their own private use and are trying to close the road ends down to the public this way. The real crime here is the way that the HLPOA and their consituents bend the rules of our judicial system to try to benefit themselves and then turn around and blame it on the people of the public. The fact is that this organization wants the road ends and the lake for that matter as private, quiet, and secluded as they can get it and they will stop at nothing to get their way. The crime is NOT with the good people of the community who bought and paid premium dollar for their backlot properties around the lake because of their ability to utilize their community resource in a positive way to build some of the best memories of their lives. This wonderful resource is what has brought generations of families who have grown up running out the cabin door and down to the beach to play as innocent children with all the other children whether they are lake front or back lot making friends and simply having fun. We who reside in the Higgins Lake area as backlotters are only continuing the only way of life we know at Higgins Lake. The solution to the problem is NOT ELMINATION of the road end docks but simply REGULATION of them and this can be done with the cooperation of all parties involved and especially the local units of government who DO NOT SUPPORT THE HLPOA's intentions and want to be able to continue the historical way of life for the people who have been residing in the Higgins Lake area for many generations. So don't be fooled by the clever words or twisted argument that the HLPOA has created simply break it down and you will see that they are a group of GREEDY individuals who are disquising their personal interests behind public rights issues and thats the bottom line. 2/17/2005 3:17:31 PM
higginslake
I haven't been up to Higgins Lake in years and I don't need to, as I fully understand HLPOA's position that the right of the public is not to allow the public to do what ever they like with public property. There isn't enough land for all the public. 100 years ago maybe there was room for wooden boats but not with 100-foot docks and boat hoists and fire pits and picnic tables on a 50-foot wide road! At the expense of the public I find that to be curious cause if you go to the county register of deeds the Public sold the property to private individuals and those private individuals platted the land and dedicated the roads to the public. The HLPOA from my distant perspective merely want the public to use these roads for ingress and egress and at the end of the day when they are done they are to take themselves and their toys and go home! This is and continues to be the law with regard to public lands. Also I point out that always, ALWAYS, backlotters claim adverse possession or prescriptive easement. This claim was indeed made by backlotters in ALL and I do mean ALL of the Higgins and Houghton Lake case. "Defendants also assert that the trial court failed to address defendants' affirmative defense of adverse possession or prescriptive easement " (Higgins lake case defendants were backlotters 2000). "We likewise reject defendants' contention they were entitled to a jury trial on their affirmative defense of adverse possession" (Higgins lake case defendants were backlotters 1997). VI. Adverse Possession of Road Ends in Almeda Beach Subdivision: Docket No. 234968 "Defendants-appellants in Docket No. 234968, concerning Almeda Beach subdivision, argue that the public has acquired rights to the road ends by adverse possession. Although defendants-appellants argue a theory of adverse possession, in substance their claim is one asserting that the public has an easement by prescription to use the road ends for recreational purposes....We think it safe to say that unless there has been some action by representatives of the public, i.e. the government, a “public” easement cannot be established by prescription. Recreational use of an area by various individuals over a period of years is insufficient to establish a public easement....In the case at bar, defendants-appellants’ claim of right to use the road ends is based solely on the recreational use of the road ends by various individuals over a period of years. The individual defendants in Almeda Beach who argue that they have acquired prescriptive rights to the road ends do not address the Kempf case, nor do they argue that any governmental action occurred “to facilitate and control recreational use.” Id. at 343-344. Because mere use of the property is insufficient to established a public easement by prescription, defendants-appellants’ claim fails.(Higgins lake case defendants were backlotters 2003) Please, be accurate and honest as in none of the lawsuits up there has any lakefront property owner claimed adverse possession. There have been attempts to vacate but only unused road ends could be vacated. Hysterical inaccurate cries of foul must and should always be addressed with the truth. Our lakes and streams cannot handle the hundreds of mini marinas some would propose and support on Michigan’s Public road ends. I love a healthy debate but let's be truthful and give others that read this postings the accurate picture. 3/16/2005 8:34:24 AM
3minutes
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