blog, articles & publications

Coronavirus/ COVID-19 :: Michigan Municipalities - May 5 Election

On March 27, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-27 (the “EO”) temporarily suspending the rules and procedures related to the May 5, 2020 election. The goal of the temporary suspension is to (1) allow the election to be conducted by absentee ballot to the greatest extent possible and (2) to better enable jurisdictions to move ballot proposals to the August 4, 2020 election date.   Read More

Coronavirus / COVID -19 :: Holding Public Meetings Electronically

Municipalities throughout Michigan have conducted municipal public body meetings electronically via teleconference, videoconference, Zoom, etc. This can be done under Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2020-15 so long as the proper procedures and public postings are utilized. One practical problem, however, is public comment. The best video or teleconferencing platforms allow the municipal clerk or other municipal official to “mute” participating members of the public until the appropriate public comment or public hearing portions of the meeting.   Read More

Coronavirus / COVID-19 :: Michigan Municipalities :: Stay Home & Stay Safe

On March 23, 2020 at 11:00 am, Michigan Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-21 (the “EO”) prohibiting in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life. It appears that the EO is more stringent than the “shelter in place” orders that have been issued by other states including California, Illinois, and Ohio. The restrictions imposed by the EO take effect on March 24, 2020 at 12:01am and continue through April 13, 2020 at 11:59 pm.    Read More

Coronavirus / COVID-19 :: Michigan Municipalities :: Paying Bills & Ratifying Emergency Actions

Over the past week or two, municipal officials throughout Michigan have had to make emergency decisions, institute temporary policies and take various actions that normally would be approved by the governing body. Given that many municipal offices are temporarily closed (with or without staff) and that public meetings have been discouraged, many municipal governing bodies have not been able to meet. Accordingly, municipal officials have often had to act under emergency and extreme situations on their own.    Read More

Coronavirus / COVID-19 :: Update - Municipal Meeting Issues in Michigan

On March 18, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-15 (the “EO”) addressing virtual meetings of public bodies under the Michigan Open Meetings Act, PA 267 of 1976, as amended (the “OMA”). In part, the EO states that “to the extent that the [… OMA] requires that a meeting of a public body be held in a physical place available to the general public or requires the physical presence of one or more members of a public body, strict compliance with section 3 of the OMA, MCL 15.263, is temporarily suspended in order to alleviate any such physical-place or physical-presence requirements [….]” The EO goes on to specify the manner in which public bodies may conduct virtual meetings (i.e., via video conference, teleconference, etc.). The EO only addresses public meetings held between March 18, 2020 and April 15, 2020. To address specific meeting procedures, municipalities are encouraged work with their attorneys.   Read More

Coronavirus / COVID-19 :: Michigan General Law Township Considerations

Unlike home rule cities and charter townships, general law townships (hereafter, “townships”) do not have charters, and the authority of a general law township supervisor is largely limited to what is expressly authorized by state statute or the township board. Because of this, much of a township’s emergency response will require action by the township board which “may adopt ordinances regulating the public health, safety, and general welfare of persons and property [….]” MCL 41.181. This can be somewhat counter intuitive because a township supervisor is often viewed as the executive head of the township and may be presumed to have the authority similar to that of a home rule city mayor or a charter township supervisor.   Read More

Coronavirus / COVID-19 :: New Assembly and Meeting Limits in Michigan


On March 16, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-11 (the “EO”). Subject to some exceptions, the EO prohibits “all assemblages of more than 50 people in a single indoor shared space and all events of more than 50 people […].” Violation of the EO is misdemeanor.   Read More

Coronavirus / COVID-19 :: Municipal Meeting Issues in Michigan

On March 13, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Directive No. 2020-2 (the “Directive”). In part, the Directive provided:   Read More

Municipal Coronavirus Policies

Everyone hopes that the coronavirus will not be widespread in Michigan or, if it is, that it will be relatively mild and manageable.  Nevertheless, it would be prudent for Michigan municipalities (including cities, villages and townships) to adopt municipal rules for office, public gatherings on municipal property and similar venues.  Such a policy could include provisions such as when municipal office personnel should stay at home, how and when municipal meetings should be cancelled, rules regarding large gatherings in municipal buildings, parks or other public spaces and similar matters.  Of course, it would be best to have such formal policies and rules in place before the coronavirus is prevalent in your area of Michigan, if that occurs.  Our firm can help municipalities with the drafting and adoption of such coronavirus policies and rules.    Read More

The Court of Appeals decides a township zoning board of appeals case by according great deference to the municipality.

On January 21, 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an unpublished decision in Nixon v Webster Township (Case No. 343505; 2020 WL 359625) involving the Webster Township Zoning Board of Appeals (the “ZBA”).  The ZBA interpreted the Webster Township Zoning Ordinance and concluded that wedding barns are not included within the definition of “Seasonal Agri-Tourism” pursuant to the Webster Township Zoning Ordinance.  On appeal, the Washtenaw County Circuit Court reversed the ZBA’s decision and held in favor of the property owner.  The Court of Appeals later reinstated the ZBA’s decision.  The Court of Appeals reiterated that courts must show great deference to a decision by a municipal zoning board of appeals and other municipal zoning bodies.  The trial court below did not accord the appropriate deference to the ZBA’s expertise and knowledge of local matters.    Read More