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New Senate Bill Sponsored by Deeds – The gaping hole

Posted by on Jan 24, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

On January 14, Sen. Creig Deeds introduced legislation based on a Work Group’s report on SB 880 from 2013.  Sen. Deeds’ bill, SB 1271 intends to reduce the litigation costs associated with riverbed ownership disputes, or at least shift the financial burden to the claimant by shifting the venue from one in front of a judge, to one in front of an arbitrator.  But as we say, the devil is in the details.

SB 1271 uses the phrase “ownership” numerous times.  Does that mean fee simple ownership or prima facie ownership?  That is the key distinction.  In my case, the judge determined the plaintiffs demonstrated sufficient evidence to support prima facie ownership, which supported their civil trespass charge, but the judge flatly denied their claim of fee simple ownership (which is what they were really after).  Thus, the injunction legally only applies to me and my brother, but has effectively privatized the bottom via myth and fear and postings (which the authorities will not require to be removed).  The problem in my case, and the gaping hole in Senator Deeds’ bill, is the elective participation of the Commonwealth.  In my case, AG Ken Cooch was running for governor and didn’t want to assert the Commonwealth’s claim against the private land owner for fear of being labled a “land taker.”  If the Commonwealth is not compelled to argue the claim of the people, regardless of the politics and ambition of the day, how are we not exactly where we started?  At the end of the day, we’re trying to solve the dispute between riparian land owner looking to restrict public use & enjoyment where the Commonwealth has a stake, not resolve disputes between two competing private claims (which Senator Deeds’ bill addresses more appropriately).

Maybe this is a step in the right direction, but it would not have prevented what happened to me.  If the AG plays politics, the Commonwealth ownership interests will never be represented.

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The Good Guys Win in Upstate NY

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

Finally, the good guys win a decision.


Kudos to the Adirondack Explorer for funding Phil Brown’s fight for public access to our waterways.  Where are these heroes in Virginia?


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