blog, articles & publications

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

Freedom of Information Act Update

A recent Michigan Attorney General Opinion (No. 7300) sheds light on the current obligations of a public body under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  Read More

Rental Inspections

P.A. 169 of 2017 was approved by Governor Snyder in late November and takes effect on February 19, 2018.  P.A. 169 is an attempt to clarify existing law regarding the inspection of multiple dwellings and rooming houses. Under the Michigan Housing Law (the “Housing Law”) a “multiple dwelling” is a dwelling used as a private dwelling occupied other than by a single family or two families sharing the dwelling; a “rooming house” generally means a dwelling occupied by one or two families but which also has rooms leased to non-family members.  Read More

Legislative Alert - Two Notable Bills Headed to Governor's Desk

Two pieces of legislation are headed to the desk of the Governor and, if signed, could impact Michigan’s municipalities.  Read More

Sign Regulation/U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Recently, in Reed v. Gilbert, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a sign ordinance under the First Amendment in a case that may have broad implications for local sign regulations.  Although the case arose in the context of temporary sign regulations, the case may affect any local sign ordinance that distinguishes between signs based on the content of signs.  In light of Reed v. Gilbert, it is important for municipalities to review their sign ordinances to determine if the regulations differentiate between signs based upon the message conveyed by signs.  If so, those ordinance provisions should be reviewed for possible amendment to minimize the risk of legal challenges under the First Amendment.  Please let us know if we can assist you.  Read More

The Michigan Court of Appeals Enhances Township Regulation of Public Roads

In Oshtemo Charter Township v. Kalamazoo County Road Commission, decided on June 25, 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals made it easier for Michigan townships to enact reasonable regulations regarding county public roads (especially truck route ordinances) over the objection of the local county road commission.  For more information, contact our office.  Read More

Michigan Supreme Court to Hear Appeal Regarding Demolition Orders

In December 2012, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a published decision that requires municipalities to give property owners an opportunity to repair structures prior to demolition, regardless of the extent of the damage or the cost to repair  Read More

LEGISLATIVE ALERT - Fireworks Regulation

A bill that gives local units of government greater control over consumer fireworks was signed into law as Public Act 65 of 2013 (“PA  65”) on June 19 by Lt. Governor Calley (on behalf of Governor Snyder who was on a trade trip).  PA 65 takes immediate effect and authorizes local units of government to regulate consumer fireworks during certain hours on the day before, the day of, and the day after a national holiday.  More specifically, PA 65 allows local units of government to enact an ordinance to regulate the ignition, discharge, or use of consumer fireworks on those days as follows:  Read More

Jeff Sluggett and Dick Butler Make Presentation to the West Michigan Regional Clerks Association

Jeff Sluggett and Dick Butler presented a seminar on May 17, 2013 at Muskegon Community College to the West Michigan Regional Clerks Association titled Legal Updates: Recent Developments for Local Government.  The presentation included topics such as Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, Open Meetings Act, Michigan Liquor Control Code, Freedom of Information Act, recall petitions, personal property tax and the financial impact of personal property tax legislation, among others.   Read More