blog, articles & publications

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


Cliff Bloom will be teaching seminars on May 1 and 2, 2020 at the annual Michigan Lakes & Streams Association Convention at Crystal Mountain in Northern Michigan. The topics will include water/riparian law, buying and selling waterfront property, local government regulation of the waterfront, easements and similar issues.  Read More

How Can Municipalities in Michigan Deal with High Water Levels?

During 2019, many municipalities throughout Michigan, both on the Great Lakes and involving inland lakes, experienced severe high water problems. Those problems include shoreline erosion and degradation, flooded basements, interference with municipal water and sewer systems, overflowing retention and detention basins, closed roads, crumbling infrastructure and many other water challenges. For the Great Lakes, the United States Army Corps of Engineers believes that water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron may be from 10 to 20 inches higher during the summer of 2020 than in 2019. That may spell disaster for a number of Michigan communities.   Read More

Easement and Gate Decision

In Smith v. Straughn, ___ Mich App ___ (2020), decided on January 28, 2020 (Case No. 345391; 2020 WL 448304), the Michigan Court of Appeals has modified slightly the long-standing precedent that it is impermissible to install a gate across an easement except where such a right has been specifically reserved in the easement language. See, Cantieny v. Friebe, 341 Mich 143; 67 NW2d 102 (1954). The Straughn case holds that unless the plain language of the easement unambiguously forbids a non-obstructive gate, such gates may be permitted if reasonable under the circumstances. Here, the Court held that because the gate was not locked and its installation was not motivated by the goal of excluding the easement beneficiary, it was permitted.  Read More

New Attorneys at Bloom Sluggett, PC

Bloom Sluggett, PC recently welcomed Amy Jonker as the firm’s chief litigator. Amy specializes in municipal litigation, property tax appeals and water rights/riparian litigation. Amy graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 2004.  Read More