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

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

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

Urban Farming and the Michigan Right to Farm Act

Bloom Sluggett Morgan attorneys Crystal Morgan and Cliff Bloom recently co-authored a Special Feature article for the Michigan Township News November 2012 edition entitled Urban Farming and the Michigan Right to Farm Act. To see the full article on our Publications Page, click on the Municipal Articles link located on the right side of the page. For more information, contact Cliff Bloom.  Read More

The Michigan Right to Farm Act and Urban Farming - Court Decision

Our attorneys were municipal co-counsel in the recent Michigan district court case of the People of Georgetown Charter Township v Sutton (Case No. 705-1652).  In that case, the Court held that what some people call “urban farming” is subject to local municipal zoning regulations, notwithstanding the Michigan Right to Farm Act.  The Court held that the GAAMPs under the Act did not shield a homeowner who kept chickens and goats in his backyard in an urban neighborhood from prosecution under local zoning regulations.   Read More

Michigan Fireworks Safety Act

Slowly, the questions raised by the adoption of the new Michigan Fireworks Safety Act (Act No. 256 of the Public Acts of 2011; the “Act”) are beginning to get answered. On June 12, Michigan’s Attorney General issued an opinion concluding that the Act does not preempt a generally applicable local ordinance where both the Act and the ordinance can be enforced. Thus, zoning and general police power ordinances not specifically addressed to the use or specifications of fireworks may well survive a legal challenge.  Read More

Municipal Civil Infractions

Michigan Townships Association Releases Manual on Ordinance Enforcement Authored by Cliff Bloom of Bloom Sluggett Morgan  Read More