blog, articles & publications

2020 Best Law Firm Honors


Bloom Sluggett, P.C. is pleased to announce that we have been selected as a "2020 Best Law Firm" by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. This is the fifth time that our firm has been recognized.

Best Law Firm honors are given to recipients that undergo a rigorous evaluation process, including client and lawyer evaluations, and peer review from leading attorneys in the field. We have been recognized for our municipal law work in the Grand Rapids, MI metropolitan area. We would like to thank our clients and peers for their appreciation and support of the work we've been doing in our community.


 This firm honor follows the recent announcement of Jeff Sluggett's individual "Best Lawyers in America" award, which was given for his work in the field of municipal law. This is the fourth time Jeff has been recognized as a Best Lawyer; in 2019 he received “Lawyer of the Year” honors, also by Best Lawyers.

  Read More

JEFF SLUGGETT RECEIVES 2020 "BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA" HONORS


We're pleased to announce that Jeff Sluggett has been selected by his peers for inclusion in "The Best Lawyers™ in America 2020” for his work in the area of Municipal Law.


This is the fourth time Jeff has been recognized as a Best Lawyer; in 2019 he received “Lawyer of the Year” honors, also by Best Lawyers.

Best Lawyers is a peer-review group, first published in 1983. The group recognizes outstanding lawyers, from more than 70 practice areas, who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Each selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Congratulations, Jeff, on a well deserved honor!  Read More

Michigan Court of Appeals Upholds Zoning Escrow Fee Policy

In Forner v Allendale Charter Township Supervisor, an unpublished decision decided on March 21, 2019 (Case No. 339072, 2019 WL 1302094), the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the application of Allendale Charter Township’s zoning escrow fee policy pursuant to a zoning board of appeals case.  The township required the plaintiff to pay a $1,500 zoning escrow fee pursuant to an appeal to the township’s zoning board of appeals.  The plaintiff alleged that the township lacked statutory authority to charge the fee.  Both the district court and the circuit court held that the township had the right to charge a zoning escrow fee pursuant to MCL 125.3406(1) because plaintiff’s request related to a legal question regarding land use.  The Court of Appeals determined that MCL 125.3406(1) applies only to zoning permits and does not authorize a zoning escrow fee for appeals to the administrative zoning board of appeals.  However, the Court of Appeals upheld the zoning escrow fee for the appeal to the zoning board of appeals based on the jurisdiction of the township’s zoning board of appeals pursuant to MCL 125.3603 and the Allendale Charter Township Zoning Ordinance, which provides that fees may be charged for an appeal to the zoning board of appeals.  The Court held that township ordinance authority is to be broadly construed.  Furthermore, the township had in place a resolution which both authorized fixed fees and also variable zoning escrow amounts.  The Court noted that the zoning escrow fees in the case were only used to reimburse the township for actual costs incurred for the services necessarily incurred by the township for the zoning board of appeals to carry out its duties.    Read More

Important Michigan Court of Appeals Decision regarding Zoning Site Plan Appeals to Circuit Court

In Woodcreek of Ann Arbor Association, et al. v City of Ann Arbor, et al., unpublished decision dated March 12, 2019 (Case No. 342848; 2019 WL 1140261), the City of Ann Arbor approved a site plan to allow a developer to develop a condominium complex.  Neighboring property owners and a nearby property owners association filed a lawsuit in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to overturn the zoning approval.  The circuit court dismissed the neighbors’ lawsuit as untimely, which decision was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals.    Read More

Cliff Bloom to Teach at the Michigan Attorney Institute at the Annual Michigan Townships Association Convention

On April 1, 2019, Cliff Bloom will make a presentation on Water Law in Michigan to attorneys attending the Michigan Townships Association Legal Institute for Municipal Attorneys at the annual convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bloom Sluggett, PC and Cliff are honored to have been chosen to be part of this esteemed program.   Read More

The Michigan Lake & Stream Associations, Inc. Annual Convention - 2019

Cliff Bloom will be teaching seminars on May 3 and 4, 2019 at the annual Michigan Lake & Stream Associations Convention at Crystal Mountain in Northern Michigan. The topics will include water/riparian law, buying and selling waterfront property, local government regulation of the waterfront, easements and similar issues.  Read More

Municipal Authority to Enter and Make Safe Dangerous Buildings

A recent decision of the federal U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reaffirmed the authority of municipalities to require owners of vacant property to register the property with the municipality and permit municipal entry and abatement if it becomes dangerous.  
At issue in Benjamin v Stemple, Case No. 18-1736, was a City of Saginaw ordinance requiring owners of vacant property to register the property with the city clerk and to agree that city personnel may enter and make safe the premises if it is found to be “dangerous.”  A number of property owners in the city challenged the ordinance as unconstitutional on Fourth Amendment search and seizure grounds.
In finding for the city, the Sixth Circuit stated that the property owners were not surrendering any Fourth Amendment rights in registering their properties.  While the Fourth Amendment generally protects a person’s right to be free from unreasonable warrantless searches and seizures, an exception applies which permits administrative searches designed to assure compliance with building codes, including codes intended to prevent buildings from becoming dangerous to tenants or neighbors.  However, the Court emphasized that the “administrative search” exception is narrowly applied; it is only valid when procedures are in place that permit property owners to challenge before a neutral decision maker a building official’s request to enter a property suspected of being dangerous.  Accordingly, municipalities must provide property owners with a hearing at which both parties may make testimony, call witnesses, introduce evidence, and conduct cross examination.  Because Saginaw’s vacant building registration form and ordinance did provide for such an administrative process, the Court found that the property owners were not forced to waive any Fourth Amendment rights.
This court decision will likely be considered hereafter as a fairly limited exception to constitutional search and seizure safeguards.  Read More

New Amendment Changes the Michigan Fireworks Law

Michigan recently enacted new legislation that expands local governments’ authority to regulate the ignition, discharge, and use of consumer fireworks.  Under the new law, municipalities may enact ordinances limiting the time and days when residents may ignite fireworks.  Any such ordinances may not regulate the use of consumer fireworks between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on specified holidays, such as New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day.  Further such ordinances may not regulate the use of consumer fireworks between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Failure to comply with the new restrictions could result in a fine of $1,000 for each violation. Under the prior statute, municipalities could not enact ordinances regulating the ignition, discharge, and use of consumer fireworks on the day preceding, day of or day after a national holiday.   Read More

Do Disappointed Bidders have Standing to Sue if they are not Awarded a Government Contract?

MCNA Insurance Company v. Department of Technology, unpublished decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 342646, 2019 WL 206417 (January 15, 2019).  Read More

Recent Michigan Court of Appeals Case Pertaining to Nuisance Abatement and How It is Impacted by the Statute of Limitations

Township of Fraser v. Haney, unpublished decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 337842, 2018 WL 6711290 (December 20, 2018).  Read More