On March 17, 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals approved for publication its December 19, 2019 opinion in New Products Corporation v Harbor Shores BHBT Land Development, LLC, __ Mich App __; __ NW2d __ (2019) (Docket No. 344211), holding that a property owner abutting a Jack Nicklaus Signature championship golf course lost its rights to a disputed parcel of land when it did not object during construction of the golf course’s 18th hole in the disputed area. The Michigan Court of Appeals determined the golf course’s potential loss of status as a Jack Nicklaus Signature championship golf course outweighed the property owner’s rights in the disputed parcel in light of the fact the property owner did not object to the construction until the golf course was completed and open to the public.
In Michigan the governmental regulation of land use is largely achieved through the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, (“MZEA”), MCL 125.3101, et seq. The MZEA allows local municipalities to adopt zoning ordinances which regulate the physical appearance and use of property within their jurisdiction. For decades zoning ordinances adopted pursuant to the MZEA or its predecessors focused primarily on regulating the use of property, and not necessarily on the physical form of the property and its buildings. Over the past two decades there has been a slow and gradual shift from use-based zoning to zoning based on the physical form of property, especially in downtown areas.
The relationship between municipalities and land developers is often one of compromise, with each attempting to find some middle-ground in order to move forward on a particular project. In many instances, however, the municipality and developer are unable to reach such a compromise and the parties find that their positions are irreconcilable. In such instances the developer may believe that their only next viable option is to seek redress in the court system. But before doing so, it is important that a developer recognize the limitations on judicial review of land use decisions by a municipality. Specifically, if a developer does not satisfy the “rule of finality,” the developer may find that they have no right to seek a judicial remedy at all. The rule of finality helps to ensure that a municipality is given an opportunity to make a final decision on the matter before it. Without such a final opportunity, judicial review is not available.
On March 30, 2017, Representatives VanSingel, Lucido, Sheppard, Webber, Howrylak and
Calley proposed House Bill 4463, which would amend MCL 600.101, et seq. by including a new section 5707. Under current Michigan law, a limited liability company (“LLC”) is required to be represented by an attorney for any landlord/tenant matters. The proposed law would allow single member LLCs (or two member LLCs if the two members are married) to handle evictions without requiring an attorney under certain circumstances.
First, the amount in dispute could not exceed the limit for small claims matters [currently $5,500]. Thus, if the damages exceeded $5,500 then an attorney would still be required. Second, the LLC may only be represented by a member, a property manager or other agent with direct and personal knowledge of the facts in the complaint.