Decades-long property dispute comes to a close

May 20, 2014
Property owners, members of the Oceana County Road Commission, road commission workers and Oceana County Sheriff Bob Farber gather in Claybanks Township where Whiskey Creeks flows into Lake Michigan Monday to put up poles that define public right-of-way.

Property owners, members of the Oceana County Road Commission, road commission workers and Oceana County Sheriff Bob Farber gather in Claybanks Township where Whiskey Creeks flows into Lake Michigan Monday to put up poles that define public right-of-way.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

CLAYBANKS TWP – A right-of-way dispute that has been brewing since the 1950s has finally reached a peaceful settlement.

A 66-foot right-of-way to Lake Michigan along Whiskey Creek on Park Road has been the subject of lawsuits over the last several years.

unnamed-2“The public has been using it to go to the beach and had no idea where to walk,” said Dave Borgeson, who has owned a cottage in the nearby Mich-Chi-Won Beach subdivision for 20 years. Borgeson was a key player in getting the private vs. public land boundaries defined. He, several other property owners, members of the Oceana County Road Commission, road commission workers and Oceana County Sheriff Bob Farber gathered at the site Monday morning to put up six poles that indicate with arrows which area is private and which is public.

“The Oceana County Road Commission employees/foremen helped and worked together with the neighbors in a true community effort,” said road commission member Bob Carr. “This will serve as a tool for residents, visitors and for the sheriff to define the right-of-way.

“While this is not a barrier, it is a reminder for all to see what is the right way and what is the wrong way to use this access to Lake Michigan,” Carr continued. “I was happy to see the road commission working with the citizens and law enforcement to get a handle on this problem, and help make our beautiful Lake Michigan more accessible.”unnamed

The area boasts a fascinating history, because it is the site of what was once the county seat, Borgeson said. The community, Roseville, was the location of the county jail and courthouse.

The right-of-way controversy has pitted the landowners against the road commission over the last several decades, and a property owner sued the road commission back in 1968, Borgeson said.

“Ninety nine percent of the people who use it are good about it,” Borgeson said. However, there have been people in the past who have abused it, and the sheriff’s department has been called in to police it. Until now, law enforcement had no clear answer of which portion was public and which was private. “Now, they have a tool to work with,” Carr said.

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