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“Partying” on the Lake — The Power of Dedication Language in a Subdivision Plat

Recorded about 80 years ago, the dedication language in a plat became the subject of a lawsuit which made it the Michigan Court of Appeals 3 years ago (Yuska v. Hasler).

Yuska v. Hasler serves as a reminder that dedication language in a plat could be the source of your right to use the lake in a subdivision, regardless of the location of your lot. In other words, you do not have to own waterfront property in a subdivision to assert your right to use the lake.

In 1941, the original owners recorded a plat map for the Woodland Beach subdivision, which borders Crooked Lake, in Keeler Township, Michigan.

As the court put it, the lawsuit was filed by lakefront lot owners disgruntled by the “partying” of certain backlot owners around a dock.

Upon examining the language in the plat, it became clear that the original owners intended to give all lot owners the right to use the beaches and lake. Specifically, the “Dedication” in the plat stated:

Aside from the explicit language of the dedication, the questions that arise usually have to do with the types of activities that such “use” encompasses. In Yuska v. Hasler, the Court held that the backlot owners:

(1) could install a nonexclusive dock;

(2) could not assert a right to moor boats on the lake for any extended period of time; and

(3) could use the dock for fishing, swimming, and boating.

See Yuska v. Hasler, Case No. 323094, 2016 Mich. App. LEXIS 117, at *11-13 (Ct. App. Jan. 21, 2016).

If you live in a subdivision that has or borders a lake, and would like to know your rights, or believe someone else is violating your rights, feel free to contact the experts at Dalton & Tomich PLC.

Written by Adel Nucho, a law clerk at Dalton & Tomich PLC and soon to be attorney with the firm.

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