© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Landowners threaten lawsuit over Lake Ontario flooding

Payne Horning
A large crowd of landowners along Lake Ontario gathered in Pulaski recently to rally for legal action against the government as they deal with damaging flooding to their properties.

A coalition of New York property owners plans to sue the International Joint Commission (IJC), the international body that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario.

At the first meeting of the newly formed Lake Ontario Landowners Association, a crowd of more than 100 packed into a restaurant in Pulaski and cheered on the founder Jim Shea as he railed against the IJC and its board members.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
The first meeting of the Lake Ontario Landowner's Association gathered to discuss their plans for a class action lawsuit against the IJC, which regulates water levels on Lake Ontario.

“We’re here today because our government representatives and public administrators promised after 2017 that this would never happen again failed to provide oversight and monitor - they need to do their jobs," Shea said to applause. "You want to destroy our properties, you're going to pay the price for it."

Shea is trying to rally homeowners and business owners along Lake Ontario’s shoreline to raise $1 million for a lawsuit against the IJC. They want compensation for flooding damages caused this year and in 2017 and the replacement of Plan 2014, the IJC’s management plan.

The strategy is to sue under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the government from taking private property without just compensation. It's not unprecedented. The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that temporary flooding induced by a government entity may entitle private landowners to compensation.

This isn’t the only potential legal action the IJC is facing. New York state recently threatened a lawsuitfor the commission’s management of lake levels.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.