A legal dispute between Clifton Park residetns and the Clifton Club over the rights to the land — more specifically, the beach — just got a lot more complicated.
Last week, a Cuyahoga County judge decided that the lawsuit — filed last year by four residents — should include all 224 homeowners, since the dispute centers around who has rights to the property.
The complainants argue that that club’s membership has crowded the once-quiet lakefront beach at the mouth of the Rocky River.
Clifton Park residents also have rights to the beach.
Dennis Butler, a Clifton Park resident who’s siding with the four original complainants, said the lawsuit seeks to clear up who owns the land trust.
From there, he said, beach access won’t be an issue.
“It’s not about overcrowding,” said Butler. “It’s about who has a right to be there and who doesn’t.”
“The trustees declared that the shareholders of the Clifton Club are equals of the trust property to the homeowners in Clifton Park. The dispute is whether that is lawful, and we believe it is not.”
The Clifton Park trustees recently penned a letter to residents, obtained by Lakewood Patch, that notes “we are troubled that this lawsuit proceeded to this point… Their goal is to eliminate the long-standing ability of the Clifton Club and its members to use Clifton Beach.”
Butler disagrees, reiterating that the purpose of the lawsuit it to define who has rights to the property, “not to eliminate the club members from coming to the beach.”
“I believe the majority of the homeowners are very supportive of what we’re trying to do," he said. "We’re just looking to define who are the owners of the trust.”
The letter from the trustees also notes that the club would like to come to a resolution that "benefits everyone."
"This dispute does not belong in court," according to the letter to neighbors. "After all, this is a neighborhood affair."
Correction: The letter sent to Clifton Park residents was written by the Clifton Park trustees.