Reverses SJ in favor of appellee on declaratory judgment the state owns the land underneath a dam and is responsible for its repair

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The Lake George Cottagers Association (hereinafter “the Association”) sought a declaratory judgment the State owns the real estate underneath a dam built in the 1930s and is therefore responsible for repairing it. The Association and the State both moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the Association’s motion.
Conclusion (slip op. at 2):  We find the legislature could not have intended the Lake Preservation Act to confer on the State “a right, a title, or an interest in or to the property” where a dam is located. Ind. Code § 14-27-7.5-4. We accordingly reverse and direct the entry of summary judgment for the State.
Key Analysis (slip op. at 6, 7):  If the legislature had intended to acquire ownership of public freshwater lakes via the Lake Preservation Act, it would not have subsequently enacted a statutory scheme to authorize its “jurisdiction and supervision over the maintenance and repair of” dams it already owned. Nor would it have promulgated statutes to permit the DNR to issue notices of violations to itself or to recover from itself the cost of emergency measures . . . The State did not become an “owner” of the land under the Mill Pond Dam by conveyance, by virtue of the Lake Preservation Act, or otherwise. Summary judgment for the Association was therefore error.

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