Who owns the Maryland mansions now

Who do the lakeside belong to?

Niegripp l Niegripp is a village on the water. The Burger district is bordered by two lakes: the Niegripper See extends to the east, and the Mittelsee to the south. There is enough shore for around 1000 villagers. It seems so.

In fact, only a 160-meter-long strip of the two lakeside shores bordering the village is open to the public. The kilometer-long banks of the middle lake are private property, the lake is fenced. At the Niegripper Lake, the north-west bank has been built up with some pretty villas. The Niegrippers only have a small bank area with a bathing entrance, volleyball field and festival area.

None of this is new. What is new, however, is the public criticism of it. A citizens' initiative has formed in the village. She calls for more lake access. Its founder, Ulrich Meier, got things rolling with a sharp letter to the editor in the Volksstimme. “When will the last parcels of land by the water be sold off and withdrawn from the general public?” He asks.

It is correct that, at least recently, no publicly accessible parcel of land by the water in Niegripp has been sold. However, some people from Niegripp are only now realizing through a new development plan for the Mittelsee that a lot will happen there, but that no public access to the lake is planned. A company wants to build 24 houses there, 16 of which are to have private access to the lake.

The company bought the space for this back in 2017. At that time, Norddeutsche Naturstein GmbH, which once mined gravel sand there, sold. The commune had the right of first refusal, but did not want to. Burg's mayor, Jörg Rehbaum (SPD), gives financial reasons when asked. He also refers to the larger bathing area on the Burger side of Lake Niegripper, around three kilometers from the village. "The citizens' initiative has to accept that the Mittelsee is private," says Rehbaum.

However, the hopes of some Niegrippers for public access to the Middle Sea are not unfounded. In 2018, when the sale was already over and the city councils were debating future plans for the area, Niegripp's local mayor, Karl-Heinz Summa (SPD), would do everything to gain access to the lake. "We will of course work towards it and not let the butter be taken from our bread," he said at the time.

It sounds different today. Although Summa sees a need for a recreational area near the lake, he still considers the initiative of the citizens' initiative to be inappropriate. The city should rather acquire a site on one of the smaller lakes south of the central lake, says Summa. The lakes he means are around one and a half kilometers from the village center. They are also owned by Norddeutsche Naturstein GmbH. When asked, the company announced that the space there was not for sale.

The man who wants to create the new lake properties on the Mittelsee with a company is no stranger to Niegripp. Christian Dettmering has already developed a residential area in the village, including the villas on the northwest side of Lake Niegripper. The fact that around 160 meters of lakeshore remained accessible to the village was part of the development contract at the time.

Dettmering has no understanding that there is now a debate about public access to the Mittelsee. He also blames individual envy and resentment. The entrepreneur lives on Lake Niegripper on a peninsula that is closed to the public. The lake shore on the peninsula is about ten times as long as the publicly accessible shore in Niegripp.

The development plan for the central lake has not yet been approved. The citizens' initiative has collected signatures, the administration now has to react to their objections.

Ulrich Meier is planning a petition at the state level. There are similar problems elsewhere as in Niegripp, he says.

Example: The deep lake in the Pretzien district of Schönebeck. Quartzite rock was mined there until the 1960s, after which the deep lake and the surrounding quarry lakes developed into a recreational area. During the GDR era, the dachas grew around the lakes and the banks became confusing. Today the local mayor of Pretzien, Frithjof Meussling (CDU), speaks of a "mess". Plots have been expanded and public roads have been cut. Ownership and leases on the lakes are diverse.

The shores of the Tiefen See are partly owned by private individuals, partly by the federal government, and the majority is municipal property. Nevertheless, the lake is only accessible to the public in a few places. You can get to the water from Steinbruchsee-Straße over a trampled fence. However, the descent to the water is not without danger. Elsewhere, the lake can be reached via the premises of a diving school - when the gate is open. Anyone who wants to swim there in summer had to pay in the past.

Attempts to regulate the conditions at the Tiefen See and to create lake access for the public have already been made. And they are there today too. A request from several city councilors has been submitted for the upcoming Schönebeck city council meeting. It calls for clarity about the routes in the local recreation area. Applicant Thoralf Winkler of the Greens refers to a provision in state law according to which it is forbidden to fence in lakes in the landscape just because they are private property.

Mayor Meussling does not want to reject the application. But he also fears a lot of unrest in the quarry lakes if rigorously surveyed and the accesses are re-regulated. Meussling also emphasizes that he has no problem with charging a fee at bathing areas. After all, someone has to dispose of the garbage there, he says.

Lutz Constabel is confronted with precisely this waste problem in the Haldensleben district of Süplingen. Constabel is the owner of a quarry lake there, which some consider to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the region. In summer, the lake, known to many as the Süplinger Canyon, is sometimes well visited. Signs, however, refer to the private property - and that visitors have to take their rubbish with them. But that doesn't always work. That's why Constabel has to take care of the garbage disposal at the lake. Attempts to involve the community in solving the garbage problem failed.

Constabel has emphasized in the past that he welcomes visitors to his quarry lake. Now the Süplinger is thinking about introducing a garbage fee. How he wants to do it, who should pay it and when, he doesn't know yet, says the owner of the lake.