The Land Division Act Plat Correction Procedures Cannot Create Nonexisting Property Rights

The Court of Appeals affirmed what we’ve long argued: the plat correction procedures of the Michigan Land Division Act cannot be used to create new property rights.

In Studley v Township of Hill, a lot owner who abuts a privately dedicate 16-foot wide Beachway running from the public Lake Shore Drive to the edge of Rifle Lake. It was only the private access for the backlotters of the Plat of Shady Shores Park Subdivision to access Rifle Lake.The landowner sought to vacate the Beachway claiming the Beachway was a nuisance.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s determination not to vacate the Beachway. As the Court of Appeals explained, the sole basis to vacate a property interest contained within a plat is with the Land Division Act, MCL 560.221 et seq and the LDA was never intended to enable a court to establish an otherwise nonexistent property right but rather only allows a court to alter a plat to reflect property rights already in existence. Because plaintiffs’ complaint did not allege that they have an existing property right in the Beachway or that the plat inaccurately depicted any existing property right, the vacation request failed.

As part of this appeal, a defendant-backlotter cross-appealed the lower court’s use of law involving public dedications rather than using the law involving private dedications to prohibit sun-bathing, lounging, or picnicking. The Court of Appeals ruled that “this is a distinction without a difference.”

Today, the defendant represented by Outside Legal Counsel, still enjoys his right to privately access the water of Rifle Lake via the Beachway.

Author: Philip Ellison

Philip L. Ellison, MBA, JD, Esq is an attorney, business counselor, and civil litigator with Outside Legal Counsel PLC. He represents riparians, backlotters, and others protecting water access on Michigan's recreational lakes. Visit his online profile at

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