blog, articles & publications

Constitutional Due Process and Equal Protection Challenges To Zoning Decisions

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals addressed the specificity with which local units of government should tailor zoning decisions to avoid constitutional violations.  In City of Holland v MCBR Properties, LLC, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued January 11, 2018 (Docket No. 336057), the City’s Zoning Ordinance prohibited residential properties within a specific zoning district adjacent to Hope College from allowing more than six vehicles to be parked on a single property; this came to be known as the “six vehicle rule.”  Owners of affected properties challenged the six vehicle rule on constitutional substantive due process and equal protection grounds.  Read More

Seasonal Homes and the Michigan Principal Residence Exemption

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a municipality which denied a property owner’s petition for a “principal residence exemption” (“PRE”).  Under Michigan’s PRE, also known as the “homestead exemption,” a principal residence property can be exempted from the property tax levied by a local school district for school operating purposes.  To apply the PRE, a person must be a Michigan resident who owns and occupies the property as a principal residence.  Michigan statute defines “principal residence” as “the 1 place where an owner of the property has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home to which, whenever absent, he or she intends to return and that shall continue as a principal residence until another principal residence is established.”  Read More

Medical Marihuana Outdoor Cultivation

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently held that local zoning restrictions on outdoor medical marihuana cultivation are preempted by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA”). In Charter Township of York v Miller, homeowners who were also MMMA patients constructed a backyard structure to be used for medical marihuana cultivation. The Township’s Zoning Ordinance expressly provided that, while residential property could be used by a medical marihuana cardholder for growing marihuana, the medical marihuana was required to be contained “within the main building” in an enclosed, locked facility.  This zoning restriction was consistent with the MMMA’s original cultivation restrictions; however, a 2012 amendment to the MMMA expanded the permissible cultivation locations to expressly include outdoor space. However, the Township argued that its broad zoning authority under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (“MZEA”) authorized it to prohibit entirely outdoor medical marihuana cultivation.  Read More

The Michigan Lake & Stream Associations, Inc Annual Convention - 2017

Cliff Bloom will be teaching seminars on April 21 and 22, 2017 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

Urban Farming: Better Direction

The degree to which a local government can regulate or restrict urban farming has, until recently, been unclear. However, in April the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development approved the 2014 Site Selection Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices (“GAAMPs”) under the Michigan Right to Farm Act, which provide better direction for local units of government.  Read More

Recording of Judgments Affecting Land

The attorneys of Bloom Sluggett Morgan have long advised their clients to record any favorable court judgment affecting land—including consent judgments—with the County Register of Deeds Office.  This includes judgments involving land use, zoning regulations, deed restrictions and similar issues.  That advice was validated by the Michigan Court of Appeals in its decision in Hartford Equities, Inc, v County of Clinton (November 26, 2013; Docket No. 313443).  Recording a judgment provides notice of its existence, and helps ensure that it may be enforced against future owners or others who may obtain an interest in the lands involved.  Read More

“You Can’t Do That!”

What is a deed restriction? Is a deed restriction the same as a restrictive covenant, covenant, or plat restriction? In general, all of those words and phrases involve the same concept. I will refer to all of those restrictions in this article collectively as “deed restrictions.”  Read More