Indiana Code previously authorized the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) to render a decision in disputes involving waterfront property. The final decision, either issued by an NRC Administrative Law Judge, as the ultimate authority, or by the Administrative Orders and Protection Act (AOPA) Committee, acting as the delegated ultimate authority of the NRC, was subject to judicial review per Indiana code.
However, on May 4, 2023, the General Assembly of the State of Indiana revised the statute and removed in its entirety the authorization by the NRC to render a decision beginning July 1. After July 1, the NRC may no longer consider any new waterfront property rights cases. Going forward, waterfront property rights disputes will be handled at the state court level. The revised code does not indicate whether any petition filed before July 1 must remain in the NRC’s jurisdiction after July 1. However, once the NRC begins to exercise jurisdiction over a case, it is likely that the case will stay with the assigned Administrative Law Judge.
The change in jurisdiction affects not only where a claim must be filed but also the time limit to file a claim. Previously, waterfront property disputes under the Indiana Code could be filed at any time a dispute exists. However, with this change to state courts for disputes, there is currently no relevant statute establishing a statute of limitations for these waterfront property disputes. Without clear guidance, the statute of limitations is likely the default of 10 years. Thus, lakers should be aware that it is now possible to be time-barred from filing a claim for such a dispute.