In Lake Isabella Development, Inc v Village of Lake Isabella, 259 Mich App 393; 675 NW2d 40 (2004), the firm represented the Michigan Association of Home Builders and the Michigan Association of REALTORS® in support of a developer’s challenge to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality rules. Under those rules, private sewer systems that meet all State requirements must still be accepted by the local government. The Court of Appeals held that the MDEQ has exclusive authority over those systems; its rule giving local governments – in effect, a veto, by requiring applicants also to obtain a resolution from the local government agreeing to take over the sewage system if the owner fails to operate it properly – is invalid.
In Windsor Charter Twp v Remsing, an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, Docket No. 249688 (2004), the Township sought to enforce a zoning ordinance against Defendant, Remsing, prohibiting him from employing sales agents to work from his home-based real estate company. Remsing argued that the sales associates were independent contractors, not employees. The Township argued that the sales associates were employees as defined by the Occupational Code. The firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Michigan Association of REALTORS® on the limited issue of whether real estate salespersons are independent contractors pursuant to the provisions of the Occupational Code. The Court of Appeals decision resolved the case favorably for the position of the Michigan Association of REALTORS®, clarifying the meaning of “employee” and “independent contractor” in the different contexts of the ordinance and statutes that employ those terms.
Although unpublished, the decision of the Court of Appeals in First Rural Housing Partnership, LLP v City of Howell, Docket No. 241192 (2004), clarified an important issue for protection of basic property rights. The firm represented a developer in its challenge to the constitutionality of the zoning of its property. Insurance defense counsel for the City, as is common, moved to dismiss, claiming that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the issue presented was not ripe for judicial review. The trial court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because the developer had filed an original action alleging a taking rather than appealing the adverse decision of the zoning board of appeals on a variance request. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction; the property owner could bring its constitutional claim and is not limited to an administrative appeal. The City appealed the Court of Appeals decision to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court denied the City’s application for leave to appeal.