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Denial of recorded Vanderburgh ‘river camps’ lots affirmed

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“River camps” along the Ohio River that date back to the 1930s may not be divided as lots of record based on the testimony of longtime residents, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, affirming a judgment of the Vanderburgh Circuit Court.

Judge Terry Crone wrote for the panel that the plain meaning of the term “of record” requires some sort of documentation in the public record of a plat or deed. Vanderburgh’s zoning ordinances took effect in 1957, and longtime residents testified that configuration of the camps had remained essentially unchanged since then.

When an attorney attempted to prepare a deed to sell one of the river camps to a longtime tenant, she ultimately was informed that there was no way to record the deed to comply with zoning without “horrendous” penalties.

In Rollett Family Farms, LLC. v. Area Plan Commission of Evansville-Vanderburgh County, Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners, and Vanderburgh County Recorder, 82A01-1301-PL-43, Crone wrote that because Rollett was unable to provide recorded documentation of the camps’ boundaries, the appeals court could grant no relief.

“Rollett is not being prevented from using the property in the same way that it did prior to 1957; it is being prohibited from creating new nonconforming lots that were not formally or legally established prior to 1957,” Crone wrote.

“In sum, we conclude that a lot of record must be documented by a public record such as a recorded deed or plat. Because there is no evidence that the boundaries of the camps are set forth in any public record, the trial court correctly found that the exemption does not apply. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.”

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