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Steffes v. Terrace Park Dock and Property Owners Association

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 15, 2019

MARC STEFFES, MERCEDES STEFFES, LANCE FREED, and JILL FREED, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
TERRACE PARK DOCK AND PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, TERRACE PARK DOCK AND PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION OFFICERS, TERRACE PARK DOCK AND PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION MEMBERS, and COLONEL F. KRAGE, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, Carl J. Petersen, Judge.

         Property owners appeal the district court order dismissing their action to enforce their right to membership in the Terrance Park Dock and Property Owners Association.

          Barry Shaw Sackett and Frances Schiro of Sackett Law Firm, PC, Spencer, for appellants.

          Steven R. Postolka and Stephen F. Avery of Cornwall, Avery, Bjornsatd and Scott, Spencer, for appellees.

          Heard by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ. Decided by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Marc and Mercedes Steffes and Lance and Jill Freed (Appellants) own property in the Terrace Park subdivision of West Okoboji. Appellants applied for membership in the Terrace Park Dock and Property Owners Association (Association). The Association denied Appellants' applications claiming that, under its bylaws, membership is limited to persons who own a parcel of land that was platted in either the original 1905 plat of Terrace Park or the 1908 Terrace Park replat. Specifically, the applicable bylaw states: "Only those persons . . . owning a parcel or parcels of land in the following described properties shall be eligible as members of the Association: All parcels of land in the original plat of Terrace Park and the Replat of Terrace Park, Dickinson County, Iowa." Appellants' property boundaries do not match up with any of the lots shown in either plat. Appellants brought suit, seeking judgment to allow them to join the Association "pursuant to their vested property right." Among other things, Appellants argued that "they should be granted membership because their Parcels fall within the Plat and/or Replat and other parcels similarly situated have in the past and should in the future be granted membership to the Defendant Association." The Association countered that since Appellants' "tracts were not delineated in the Original or amended Plats of Terrace Park, the [Appellants] are not entitled to membership in the Association." The district court found the bylaws unambiguously excluded Appellants from membership in the Association. Appellants appealed the district court's ruling. We reverse.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Terrace Park is a subdivision in West Okoboji that abuts Green's Beach on West Lake Okoboji. Terrace Park was first platted in 1905. The original plat included numerous blocks consisting of some 247 lots.[1] Terrace Park was replatted in 1908. The replatting combined about 173 original lots into four large lots-seven lots became Lot A, about 61 lots became Lot B, about 79 lots became Lot C, and 26 lots became Lot D. About 74 of the originally platted lots remained untouched by the 1908 replatting.[2]

         The property relevant to this appeal is located within a triangular parcel that was originally named Block 7 in the Terrace Park 1905 plat and consisted of seven lots.

         1905 Original Plat, Block 7, Terrace Park

         (Image Omitted)

         In the 1908 replatting, the seven lots of Block 7 were combined into one lot, which was renamed Lot A.

         1908 Replat, Lot A, Terrace Park

         (Image Omitted)

         In 1999, Lot A, was replatted into four lots: Lots 1, 2, and 3 (renamed Terrace Park Curve), and Partial Lot A of replat of Terrace Park. The replatting also included a small outlot dedicated ...


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