Who owns this North Palm Beach river? Homeowners fight back against developer

Submerged land borders about 100 parcels with homes, condos, retail and marinas
April 11, 2019 05:30PM

The Earman River (Credit: Paradise Real Estate International)

A group of owners of properties along a river in North Palm Beach are fighting back against a company’s claim that it owns the submerged land behind their properties.

For more than 20 years, dozens of owners have received demands from North Palm Beach Properties Inc., which wants to sell off the Earman River it says it has owned since it began building homes there in the 1950s. But the family behind the company has ramped up its efforts to sell the land, demanding $40,000 or more from owners of the waterfront properties, with the threat of selling to “somebody who would have maybe … a more devious look at what they want to do,″ according to a Palm Beach Post investigation.

The submerged land borders about 100 parcels with homes, condos, retail and marinas, many of which have docks, the Palm Beach Post reported.

A group of owners on Ibis Way are engaging in a costly legal fight with the company, which is now controlled by founder John “Jack” Schwencke’s son, Kim Schwencke. Kim and his older sister told the newspaper that in addition to not wanting to deal with the liabilities that come with owning the land, they recently “made a conscious decision to divest North Palm Beach Properties’ assets so as to not leave this legacy to our children who have no knowledge of the history of North Palm Beach Properties.″

Since 2017, the company has been named in five lawsuits involving the submerged land, none of which have been ruled on by a judge. The Ibis Way neighbors, who sued in September, are now hoping to defend their rights to access their backyard docks.

North Palm Beach was developed as a boating community. To us, this is about our right to enjoy the waterway that we were led to believe we were buying,″ said lawyer and resident Ron Lantz. [Palm Beach Post]Katherine Kallergis