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NRC may dictate placement of pier

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A family that lives owns property on Bass Lake failed to show that the Natural Resources Commission’s decision that the family must move its pier to accommodate the placement of a group pier was arbitrary and capricious, or unsupported by evidence, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Gunther and Carol Kranz own property on the lake that is subject to an easement by other landowners. The NRC determined that those easement holders had the right to place a group pier at the end of the easement. The Department of Natural Resources initially denied the permit for a pier over safety concerns. An administrative law judge determined the easement holders should be allowed to have the pier and that the Kranzes and another landowner should move their piers to accommodate the group pier.

Both the NRC and the trial court affirmed the administrative law judge’s decision.

On appeal, the court denied reversing the NRC’s decision in Gunther Kranz and Carol Kranz v. Meyers Subdivision Property Owners Association, Inc., Christopher Bartoszek, and Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources,
75A03-1112-PL-577. The Kranzes argued that the NRC lacked jurisdiction to determine property rights; that the decision was arbitrary and capricious because the NRC didn’t follow its own rule; that the decision wasn’t supported by substantial evidence; and the decision was an unconstitutional taking.

The NRC has jurisdiction to render a decision regarding property rights to the extent necessary to implement the permit process, wrote Judge Terry Crone. The NRC also properly interpreted and applied its rule, 312 Indiana Administrative Code 11-4-8(c)(1).

“Further, the evidence favorable to the decision is that the safety concerns were alleviated by moving the neighboring piers away from the Group Pier. Finally, we conclude that there was not an unconstitutional taking of the Kranzes’ property,” he wrote. “Because Bass Lake is a public freshwater lake, the only effect of the NRC’s decision on the Kranzes’ property rights was to relocate their pier, and there was no indication that the pier was any less usable in the location chosen by the NRC. The decision does not deprive the Kranzes’ property of all or substantially all of its economic or productive use and therefore is not an unconstitutional taking.”

 

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