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Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Landowners Due to the Lakeshore Trail Rail-Trail Conversion in Muskegon, Michigan.

Landowners whose property is taken for recreational trails rely on Stewart, Wald & McCulley to recover money for them from the government.

Stewart, Wald & McCulley

This case is about landowners receiving just compensation for property taken from them by the federal government.”
— Michael J. Smith
MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , September 1, 2022 / -- Stewart, Wald & McCulley, LLC, the nation’s leading and only fully dedicated Rails-to-Trails litigation law firm, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Muskegon landowners against the federal government. The suit was filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims as a result of the rail-trail conversion in Muskegon, Michigan. The firm will be adding more landowners next week, for a total of 14 landowners thus far represented in the lawsuit, Lakeshore Harbour Townhouses Condominium, et al., v. United States, Case No. 22-902L.

The landowners own land located adjacent to a 2-mile stretch of abandoned railway along Muskegon Lake. The rail line extends near Lakeshore Drive from Rotary Park to the proposed Windward Point development site. The rail line was constructed in the late 1860’s and early 1870’s by the Chicago and Michigan Lakeshore Railroad. The Muskegon City Commission has approved the purchase of the abandoned rail line to construct the Lakeshore Trail.

On July 21, 2022, the City of Muskegon filed a request to use the defunct railroad track for a recreational trail with the Surface Transportation Board. Following that request, the Surface Transportation Board approved the project under the National Trails System Act (“Trails Act”) and issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use on August 9, 2022. The Trails Act permits the conversion of abandoned railroad corridors into nature and hiking trails, which simultaneously preserves the right of ways for possible future railroad use, a process known as railbanking. The Trails Act prevents the land within the abandoned railroad from reverting to the adjoining landowners, and instead grants the trail sponsor a new easement, thereby blocking the rights of landowners to regain the property within the corridor.

Stewart, Wald & McCulley, LLC recently held property owner meetings in Muskegon regarding the lawsuit. Attorney Michael J. Smith notes any lawsuit filed on behalf of a landowner is solely against the federal government and does not affect the trail project. “The lawsuit is only against the federal government and not against the railroad or the City of Muskegon. This case is about landowners receiving just compensation for property taken from them by the federal government. We believe there are over 70 parcels of land that will be impacted by the rail-trail conversion.”

A representative from Stewart, Wald & McCulley will be returning to the area to conduct additional landowner meetings. Interested landowners should reach out to the law firm at for details on meeting times.

Stewart, Wald & McCulley is a law firm with locations in Saint Louis and Kansas City, Missouri. Their national practice focuses on representing landowners in rail-trail conversions across the nation.

Michael J. Smith
Stewart, Wald & McCulley
+1 314-720-0220
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