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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2003

Bill would sink Lake Erie land leases


COLUMBUS - A program in which the state of Ohio leases back often-submerged property from residential property owners along Lake Erie would be eliminated under a new version of a bill released yesterday.

Instead, property owners would be required to pay a one-time fee for a permit to erect erosion-control walls or replace docks below the ordinary high-water mark. The permit fees have not been determined.

The bill also would set the boundary between private-property owners and the state as the 100-year average as set by the Army Corps of Engineers or whatever a deed states, said its sponsor, state Rep. Tim Grendell (R., Chesterland).

State officials say the ordinary high-water mark is the boundary between Lake Erie s Public Trust lands and shorefront property. They say the Public Trust doctrine allows the state to regulate Lake Erie waters from the boundary with Canada to the point where the ordinary high-water mark intersects with the natural shoreline.

Conservation groups say the bill - which will be debated next week in committee - would transfer thousands of acres of lakefront property from the state to private property owners.

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