Dobbins Island is privately owned but the beach is used by the public. The battle over private and public rights will be heard in court on Thursday. The Clickner family bought the island and they don't feel they have to open the beach up to the public. The fact that it has been used for decades by the public is what will be settled in court; who has the right to the beach. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. /October 5, 2011)
Lawyers for the owner of an island in the Magothy River argued Thursday that if the state's highest court forces David and Diana Clickner to open their beach to the public, it would set a troubling precedent and raise liability issues for all waterfront property owners.
But an attorney for the Magothy River Association, which sued the Clickners for access to a 1,200 foot swath of sand, argued that her clients have met the legal requirements to be granted an easement.
The Court of Appeals on Thursday took up the case of the beach on Dobbins Island – whether the public has a right to use a beach that is privately owned, mainly because they have always done so.
Last year, Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth granted what's called a "prescriptive easement," ruling that the beach up to where grasses and shrubs grow is public, and ordered the Clickners, who purchased the 7-acre island in 2004 with plans to build a home there, to remove a fence they'd erected. The Clickners appealed and the case went to the Court of Appeals.
On Thursday, the judges asked questions about detailed points of law and public policy. The panel has no deadline to make a decision.
Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts