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Private Property

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michigan
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Private Property

I proposed last summer on the beach just west of that picnic area that is west of Hotel Iroquis (SP?). I know a road separates the beach land and the residents so I wasn't sure if I was trespassing or not. Well, my fiance' and I would like to have our 3 friends back to that spot for a quick wedding ceremony (one of my friends is marrying us) and it's not going to be flashy, disturbing or draw attention. We were wondering if it's trespassing or not. I don't know the owner and would hate to upset them. I live 5 hrs away so I can't go ask the owners. What do ya'll think?

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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1. Re: Private Property

Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding!!

As a real estate broker in Michigan, I can tell you with absolute certainty that you are not trespassing if you stay on the beach. In Michigan, the public trust holds littoral rights on the Great Lakes, not the lakefront property owners. On inland lakes, an owners property includes the lake bottom, in theory, in a pie shape extending to the middle of the lake. They own the beach and while the public has the right to use the lake surface, they can't use the bottom. On the Great Lakes, property owners do not own to the water's edge, shore and lake bottom are owned by the public trust. What this means is that the beach area (the size of which could be open to interpretation...if you stay relatively close to the water you'll be more than fine) is open to the public for recreation purposes...picnic, sunbathe...wedding, etc. These public lands include the water in the great lakes and the natural extension of the beach.

There are two kickers...first, while the beach is fair game, the property between the road and beach can be privately held. What this means is that you have to get to the beach from a public point and walk the beach to where you want to go.

The second kicker is that most people don't know their rights, and the lakefront owners definitely take advantage of this.

I was at a music festival in Empire last summer where there's a beautiful public beach. There is a boat launch at one end which kind of marks the end of the public beach. There's even a sign marked "private beach". The weather was beautiful and the beach was absolutely packed. Without exception, everyone stayed on the public beach side of the boat launch. We had a group of four, and walked a few hundred yards up the open beach and set up a spot (very near the water's edge though the beach was a good 30 yards wide) and sure enough, within 10 minutes one of the cottage owners was down telling us this was his private beach and we had to stay in the public area. I politely explained that I was well aware of my littoral rights and we were within the public land. We weren't causing a nuisance and when the owner realized I knew what I was talking about he turned around and left.

I don't know the ownership of the land you're describing, but I know for certain you're well within your rights. I seriously doubt however, that you'll have any problems at all. If someone does confront you, state your case in a calm, polite manner and you'll be fine.

michigan
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2. Re: Private Property

wow, thank you very much. You took a lot of worry out of us and this should run a lot smoother now. Thanks again.

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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3. Re: Private Property

No Problem, glad to help!!

Now, if it's not too much trouble, could you be sure to write a review and/or trip report when you get back?

Bay City, Michigan
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4. Re: Private Property

Hey DH-long time no see! Just wanted to say again, like I have on a few other posts by you, WAY TO GO! You know so much-so informative-great advice-OK, that is enough adulation...lol. How's your winter going? Good here, but can't wait for summer. I miss camping up north so much! Tyme

Bay City, Michigan
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5. Re: Private Property

Oh-sorry-congratulations civil-have a wonderful wedding and absolutely, without question-write a trip report and/or post a bit of info on your celebration. We love to hear these things. Tyme

Michigan
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237 posts
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6. Re: Private Property

I hate to say this because DHC usually gives very good advice but not in this case. While DHC is technically right the property that the OP is asking about is private and is posted. Don't expect to just walk up and have a wedding. The beach property there is non existant. IE Rock. Due your self a big favor and just pick another spot. There are plenty of places like public parks. Sorry I know it's not what you wanted to hear but there really is no public "beach" there. Further as a water front land owner I can assure you that not all waterfront land in Mi has riparian rights available to the public.

michigan
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7. Re: Private Property

Ahh that's bad news. I considered knocking on the beach owners front door maybe a day before we get married. I don't think people on the island will pull a shot-gun on me for knocking. You have to be pretty relaxed to own a home right on the main strip, even if it's a little ways down from all the stores.

If this doesn't work out, I can move a few yards east in front of that old little library. I believe that library could just "belong" to the "island."

We are almost to the point where we just want to get a marriage certificate and go on with life. We are sooo non-traditional it's funny.

It's about love anyway!

And yes, I will write about my experiance on the island, hotel and beach wedding (if that happens).

Thanks ya'll for the help.

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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8. Re: Private Property

docsknotinn, what are you basing that statement on? I really don't think I'm wrong about this, but if you have information to the contrary I'd love to hear about it.

Riparian and Littoral rights in Michigan are issues that are constantly in the courts. As I understand it, the property owner currently owns to what's called the "Ordinary High Watermark" or OHW. The Army Corps of Engineers recognizes the OHW at 581.5' Great Lakes Datum. Although the level of the lake fluctuates, the OHW is fixed.

Because ownership of the Great Lakes bottom is shared between states, there has to be an agreed upon termination line for riparian owners. Michigan holds in public trust it's lands bordering the Great Lakes. What this means is that these lands are available for public use. Now, I will admit that public use is limited...surely, you can't pitch a tent and camp out for the weekend, but I sure wouldn't think you'd be out of line for an hour or so with your wedding.

About the no trespassing sign, just because someone put one out dosen't mean it's enforcable.

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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2,125 posts
34 reviews
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9. Re: Private Property

Hey Tyme,

Thanks for the kind words!! I'm getting the camping jones myself...I love winter, but this year I'm just not so much into it. Maybe I'm getting old!!

Do you have any plans yet for the summer? I'd love to buy you a beer in one of my favorite haunts next time you're up!

Michigan
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237 posts
55 reviews
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10. Re: Private Property

"About the no trespassing sign, just because someone put one out dosen't mean it's enforcable."

DHC; I'm sorry to say with that statement I lost a considerable amount of respect for you. If it's posted it's obviously private. Encouraging people to tresspass is just plain wrong. We are lucky enough to be in a state with so much public land readily available It should be a moot point.

To the OP. Here is a link to an interactive Island map. Bring it up and zoom in. Find the Iroquois hotel. The immediate area to the west is private and posted. If you look on the map the next marker over is the boardwalk. I'm wondering if this area is what you are actually inquiring about. If not it's just a short walk. Click the little boardwalk icon and a video comes up so you can see it. This area is public and easilly acessable.

Enjoy and congrats! :)

http://www.mackinac.com/maps/flashmap.html