By Deb Patterson
What do you do when you can’t utilize your pier in the lake due to boats anchored nearby? You seek legal advice and file for a permit.
Steve Snyder filed a request, on behalf of Anchor Holdings, LLC, Peter Nicholas, for a permit to install signage in the lake prohibiting boats from anchoring within 200 feet in front of property known as the Eli Lilly Estates on Lake Wawasee with the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water. Randall Tobias, a neighbor, also filed a companion request.
The request was for a permit to place six posts, 3.5 inch in diameter, approximately 186 feet from the shoreline posting a notice “Mooring or anchoring a boat within 200 feet of this shoreline is illegal.” The posts would only be 3.5 feet above the legal lake level.
However, the permit was denied Friday. An appeal has been filed with the Natural Resources Commission.
“It’s not like they want to stir up trouble,” stated Snyder, attorney for Nicholas. “They can’t get out of their pier.”
Snyder noted he has been trying for more than 35 years to get law enforcement officials to enforce a state statute. With the appeal, “we’ll fine out if my interpretation of the law is correct.”
Snyder’s interpretation of the state statute is only a few things are allowed within 200 feet of shoreline: fishing or trolling and approaching a dock or shoreline. Anchoring within that area is not allowed. Thus the request.
The state’s denial, signed by James Hebenstreit, PE, assistant director of the division of water, was based on four facts.
Those facts are:
Indiana Code 14-26-2-5(c)(d) and (e) provides the natural resources and the natural scenic beauty of Indiana are a public right and the public has a vested right in the preservation, protection and enjoyment of all public freshwater lakes in their present state and the right to use the public freshwater lakes for recreational purposes, the state has full power and control of all state public freshwater lakes, holds and controls all public freshwater lakes in trust for use by all citizens of the state for recreation purposes, and that a person owning land bordering a public freshwater lake does not have the “exclusive right to use the waters of the lake or any part of the lake.” This first reason also states “these provisions do not allow the department to authorize or give the appearance of authorizing the blocking off of any portion of the public freshwater lake for private use.
The second reason states there is no statutory prohibition against the mooring or anchoring of boats within 200 feet of the shoreline.
A third reason states the project would create a navigational hazard for the boating public noting the placement of the six posts at 3.5 feet above the waterline would create a substantial hazard.
The final reason defines the Lakes Preservation Act, natural scenic beauty and recreational purpose within the statute of IC 14-26-2-5.
The appeal will be conducted by Stephen L. Lucas, director, division of hearings. Natural Resources Commission will make the final determination following the proceedings before an administrative law judge.