Federal judge rejects jurisdiction in battle over beach rights

CLEVELAND - A federal court dismissed claims that it had jurisdiction in a fight over property rights along Lake Erie, sending the dispute back to the county court where the case started.

State Sen. Tim Grendell, a northeast Ohio Republican, said Wednesday that state attorneys' attempts to turn the case over to U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver were "improper and frivolous."

A group of property owners sued in Lake County Common Pleas Court in 2004, claiming their property extends to the edge of the water. Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials contend that property ends at Lake Erie's high water mark.

Oliver said Monday that the federal court does not have jurisdiction because the United States does not have the title to the lakefront land. State attorneys had argued that the federal court should hear the case because it involved issues of land granted to Ohio when it became a state in 1803.

The Department of Natural Resources says anything below the high water mark is no longer private and should be accessible to the public.

Many property owners have deeds stating they own property up to the "Ohio low water mark."

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