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Michigan Court of Appeals Upholds Zoning Escrow Fee Policy

In Forner v Allendale Charter Township Supervisor, an unpublished decision decided on March 21, 2019 (Case No. 339072, 2019 WL 1302094), the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the application of Allendale Charter Township’s zoning escrow fee policy pursuant to a zoning board of appeals case.  The township required the plaintiff to pay a $1,500 zoning escrow fee pursuant to an appeal to the township’s zoning board of appeals.  The plaintiff alleged that the township lacked statutory authority to charge the fee.  Both the district court and the circuit court held that the township had the right to charge a zoning escrow fee pursuant to MCL 125.3406(1) because plaintiff’s request related to a legal question regarding land use.  The Court of Appeals determined that MCL 125.3406(1) applies only to zoning permits and does not authorize a zoning escrow fee for appeals to the administrative zoning board of appeals.  However, the Court of Appeals upheld the zoning escrow fee for the appeal to the zoning board of appeals based on the jurisdiction of the township’s zoning board of appeals pursuant to MCL 125.3603 and the Allendale Charter Township Zoning Ordinance, which provides that fees may be charged for an appeal to the zoning board of appeals.  The Court held that township ordinance authority is to be broadly construed.  Furthermore, the township had in place a resolution which both authorized fixed fees and also variable zoning escrow amounts.  The Court noted that the zoning escrow fees in the case were only used to reimburse the township for actual costs incurred for the services necessarily incurred by the township for the zoning board of appeals to carry out its duties.    Read More

Important Michigan Court of Appeals Decision regarding Zoning Site Plan Appeals to Circuit Court

In Woodcreek of Ann Arbor Association, et al. v City of Ann Arbor, et al., unpublished decision dated March 12, 2019 (Case No. 342848; 2019 WL 1140261), the City of Ann Arbor approved a site plan to allow a developer to develop a condominium complex.  Neighboring property owners and a nearby property owners association filed a lawsuit in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to overturn the zoning approval.  The circuit court dismissed the neighbors’ lawsuit as untimely, which decision was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals.    Read More