Planning Commission recommends Lake Mitchell canal land plat, while council member opposes

Chuck Mauszycki, the owner of the canal, is seeking to turn the 3.9 acres of land underneath the canal into a public right-of-way through having it platted.

The canal with homes built along the shoreline west of Lake Mitchell.
Sam Fosness / Republic

MITCHELL — The owner of the canal that flows into the west side of Mitchell cleared the first step of turning the land into a public right-of-way on Monday after the Planning and Zoning Commission approved platting the land.

The canal became a source of confusion after Jim Taylor, the deputy state’s attorney representing Davison County, discovered Mitchell real estate developer Chuck Mauszycki owns the narrow strip of land on the bottom of the canal. Mauszycki, who was under the assumption that the city already owned the 3.9 acres of land along the channel, is seeking to turn it into a public right-of-way through having it platted — a process that defines the legal boundaries and description of the land.

For that to happen, the Mitchell City Council would have to approve the plat. The Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of the plat on Monday is a recommendation for the council to consider at the April 3 meeting.

“I remember when the original plat happened before this body. My understanding was that this was all going to be taken care of at that time,” said Jay Larson, the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. “Someone must not have dotted an i.”

In early February, Davison County officials sought to determine who owns the canal for property tax purposes and to clear up how the channel is controlled. Due to the misunderstanding of ownership, 17 years went by without anyone paying property taxes on the strip of land that serves as an access for boats to travel to and from Lake Mitchell.


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"It’s a non-meandered stream with plats along the edge of the canal, and the bottom of the canal remains with the original owner,” Jim Taylor said, noting Chuck Mauszycki owns the canal land.

During the discussion over the canal at the February county commission meeting, Mauszycki said it was his understanding that the canal has been owned by the city of Mitchell for nearly two decades since he built the channel and the lake housing development that surrounds it.

Mauszycki’s attorney, Don Petersen, provided the Planning Commission with some background information of the canal during Monday’s meeting.

“When Chuck Mauszycki Sr. was working on this, the plan was for this to happen. He was told by the Army Corp. of Engineers working on it that ‘You won’t own this property anymore.’ At some point, the county stopped assessing it,” Petersen said, noting Mauszycki assumed he relinquished ownership of the canal. “The county decided that because this plat had never been completed, they are going to have to start assessing it. So we’re just trying to clean that up.”

According to Karla Love, director of Davison County Department of Equalization, the canal was first brought on the county’s tax assessment rolls in 2005. However, she said it was removed from the assessment rolls in 2006. Love indicated that it was unclear how the decision was made to remove it from the tax rolls, along with who made the decision nearly two decades ago.

Mitchell’s City Attorney Justin Johnson said there are indications that point to the canal being built with the intent to serve as a public right-of-way.

“It sure seemed like the intention was for this to essentially be treated as a right-of-way, which is what the intent of the plat is that you got in front of you,” Johnson said. “In the last couple months, there was an issue brought forward with the county about the taxation on that land. That’s what prompted a review of the history.”

If the council approves the canal plat, it would relieve Mauszycki from paying property taxes on the narrow piece of land.

Although the Planning Commission recommended approval of the plat, Mitchell City Councilman Dan Allen said he’s not in favor of approving the plat.


“I’m not interested in having the city take over the canal,” Allen said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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