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Permits for piers on Big Long Lake get local hearing


Representatives from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) took comments on several permit applications for the Long Lake Park section of Big Long Lake at an informal hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Residents of blocks 5-11 in Long Lake Park presented consolidated pier permits that, if approved, would put a total of 40 piers into the lake, with the blocks having three to nine piers each. Attorney Tom Niezer presented a diagram showing the proposed layout, and commented that five previous permits that had been allowed by the DNR are “creating interference of property rights of other property owners.”

Niezer also commented that the proposed permits would implement a plan that “allows every property owner to safely access the lake.”

Niezer contended that approval of the consolidated plan would “effectively end the litigation that is out there and avoid a piecemeal approach to placing piers.”

Lotowner Mike Ashley supported the plan, agreeing that the consolidated plan would put the piers the closest to each owner’s land, and the applicants get the access they requested. He added that if permits are done one at a time “it will lead to an unworkable solution.” He also voiced his concern that, with every pier in Block 7 placed at the north end of the block, he would “find every boat from Block 7 moored in front of our house.”

Those presenting the consolidated permits claimed that majority of the lot owners agreed with the plan, while others disputed that point.

Others, like lot owner Sally Spaw, told the DNR that the applicants “have ignored the rulings.” She was against the consolidated plan presented and felt that, although she had tried to work with the “front view owners, we were turned down without discussion.” Spaw said that she found there was no other option than to apply for a pier based on the court rulings.

Lotowner Paul Jennings contended that the proposed permits were not equal, as those applying claimed. “If it’s equal, why are back lots sharing piers and front lots aren’t? That’s not equal,” he commented.

Attorney Pat Murphy said that the proposal came out of the last couple of hearings on the issue and that combined permits had been granted. “Instead of no one having a pier, we thought this is the best way to let everyone have a pier. If there is only 6 ft. access allowed, then no one has piers,” Murphy stated.

He also commented that permitting one at a time doesn’t make sense and would leave some lot owners squeezed out. “If we don’t come up with a master plan, there will be problems,” he added.

The DNR will continue to take written comments for up to two weeks before making a decision. Comments can be sent to: Division of Water, 402 W. Washington St., Room W264, Indianapolis, IN 46204.