Trinke Estates Prop. Owners' Ass'n, Inc. v. Terrence L.P. (WI)

Summary: Rule regulating usage of a lagoon for both riparian and non-riparian rights owners by a subdivision association is valid and enforceable.


Trinke Estates Prop. Owners' Ass'n, Inc. v. Terrence L.P., 2012 AP 1032, 2013 WL 3745837 (Wis. Ct. App. 2013).


Facts: Trinke Estates Property Owners’ Association (“Association”) sought a grant of declaratory relief and an injunction against Schaul Limited Partnership and others, collectively “Schaul”, for Schaul’s violation of an Association rule regarding the use of boat slips. The Association’s rule stated that “[b]oat slips in the lagoons are for the use of the members or the members of the immediate family and are not to be loaned or rented to non-members.” Schaul leased slips on his pier to persons who were neither family members nor Association members and continued to do so even after being reminded by the Association of the rule prohibiting the renting of slips to non-members.

Schaul pled the affirmative defenses of “riparian rights,” laches, and waiver. Schaul argued that the Association’s rule is invalid because the use of piers is a “riparian right” and riparian rights may not be conveyed to another (in this case the Association), without the conveyance of the real property itself. Schaul contended that the formation of the Association and the by-laws placing control of the waterfront owners’ piers under the Association’s authority was an invalid conveyance of those riparian rights.

On summary judgment, the circuit court ruled in favor of the Association holding the Association’s rule valid and enforceable.


Holding: Affirmed. On appeal, the court rejected Schaul’s riparian rights argument. The court did so because Schaul provided no citation to any law establishing that the creation of the subdivision association was a conveyance of a riparian property interest from owners to the Association. Furthermore, the court disposed of Schaul’s argument because he failed to cite any law that “prevents riparian property rights from being subject to regulation under such an arrangement.”

The court also rejected Schaul’s argument that that the Association’s rule was modified by a process that amounted to waiver by the association. Schaul, in support of his waiver argument, produced various documents purporting to establish that the Association rule regarding piers did not apply to his property, but applied to only certain other “assigned piers” used by Association members who do not themselves own waterfront property. After a review of the documents, the court concluded that the documents Schaul based his argument upon did not establish that the Association had no authority over piers of riparian owners.

Finally, the court concluded that the Association neither intentionally waived nor acquiesced its right to enforce the pier rule by not seeking to enforce it in court before now.


Opinion Year: 
By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 10:05am