Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quiet Title Law Could Threaten Trails

Recently, the Paint Creek Trail, in Oakland County, has taken action to prevent the use of "Quiet Title" against trail property. The commissioners decided to proactively address this potential problem in reaction to a recent lawsuit filed in Menominee, MI.

Basically, quiet title allows a property owner to sue for ownership of land which they have used for 15 years without dispute. These actions have been used for decades in situations between private property owners. What makes the current situation so different is that in Menominee action was taken by a private landowner against a governmental agency. There is a state law which supposedly protects local governments from quiet title actions. However, in the Menominee case, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that since the property owner sued first that the protection did not apply.

Now the Paint Creek Trail commissioners are suing property owners who have been practicing such innocuous activities as mowing into the trail right-of-way. The Commission is attempting to work with property owners to assure them that it bears no ill-will, but simply needs to legally secure its boundaries.

The Menominee case is headed for the Michigan Supreme Court, and the Oakland County action will be placed on hold until after than ruling.

William Mathewson, of the Michigan Municipal League, said "I think there's a tremendous amount of public land that is potentially at risk."

based on articles in the Detroit Free Press, June 21, 2009, "Fight Intensifies Over Public Land," and "Trail Group Sues 56 Landowners."
See Paint Creek Trail
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