In Toll Northville Ltd Partnership v Twp of Northville, 272 Mich App 352; 726 NW2d 57 (2006), the firm represented the Michigan Association of Home Builders (MAHB) in support of a developer's challenge to Northville Township's dramatic increase in the taxable value of newly-developed lots before any sale. Consistent with the position taken on behalf of MAHB, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded the Township's increase of taxable value, which had been based upon the installation of public service improvements was unconstitutional and in violation of the cap on increases in taxable value imposed by Proposal A. The decision has the effect of limiting a municipalities ability to increase the taxable value of a property based solely upon the installation of public service improvements.
In Hartman & Eichhorn Bldg Co, Inc v Dailey, 478 Mich 891, 732 NW2d 108 (2007), the firm represented the Michigan Association of REALTORS® and the Michigan Association of Home Builders in both the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in support of a licensed residential builder's claim that it is regulated by state licensing and accordingly not subject to the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (the MCPA). Although the Court of Appeals was persuaded that the argument was correct, it held that it was bound by Court of Appeals precedent to hold that the home builder was subject to the MCPA. The Supreme Court overruled that precedent and held that home builders are exempt from the MCPA.
In Little v Hirschman, 472 Mich 862; 692 NW2d 384 (2005), the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the validity of dedications in plats allowing back-lot owners to use beaches, lakes, rivers and other recreational areas. Specifically at issue was the enforceability of dedications of land for private use; the firm represented the Michigan Association of REALTORS® in support of those dedications. The Court of Appeals had held that dedications of land for private use were prohibited. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed, finding in favor of the owners of back-lots, recognizing the validity of private dedications, and granting the back-lot owners an irrevocable right to use the privately-dedicated land.
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 Hall v Small, 267 Mich App 330; 705 NW2d 741, lv den 474 Mich 972 (2005), the firm represented the Michigan Association of REALTORS® in support of real estate agents on the issue of whether a release, signed by purchasers at closing, was valid. The Court of Appeals found the release to be valid and affirmed the trial court's dismissal of purchaser's claims against the real estate agents and brokers.
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.
The firm represented a developer in its successful challenge to the authority of a township to require a developer to construct new sidewalks for the public on established county roads around the outer boundary of its subdivision, where the county and township had no sidewalks. In First DeWitt II, LLC v Charter Twp of DeWitt, an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, Docket No. 243217 (2003), the Court of Appeals held that the Township lacked such authority and upheld the developer's right to construct its proposed subdivision without sidewalks along the outer boundary. The Township did not appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals.
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.
Other reported opinions of the courts in cases in which the Firm’s attorneys represented parties or assisted the court as amicus also include:
General Aviation, Inc v Capital Region Airport Authority, 224 Mich App 710 (1997), in the Michigan Court of Appeals;
Kendall Medical v Progressive Medical, 85 F3d 1570 (CA 6, 1996), in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit;
K&K v Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 217 Mich App 56 (1996); 456 Mich 570 (1998);
Volkema v Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 214 Mich App 66 (1996), in the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court.
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