blog, articles & publications

BSM Client Prevails in Property Tax Exemption Case

BSM recently represented the City of Kentwood in the case of SBC Health Midwest, Inc v City of Kentwood (Michigan Tax Tribunal No. 416230).  The petitioner was claiming a property tax exemption going back to 2011 for approximately $600,000 of personal property that it owned and used in the operation of a for-profit college (Sanford Brown).  The City denied the exemption on the grounds that for-profit schools are not entitled to property tax exemptions under state law.  The property owner appealed and, after careful consideration of the legal arguments and evidence presented by the City, the Michigan Tax Tribunal agreed with the City that for-profit schools are not entitled to the exemption.  The Tax Tribunal’s decision was reprinted in the November edition of the Michigan Assessor Magazine, which you can read hereFor more information about this case, how it may impact property in your jurisdiction, or to discuss how BSM may be able to help you with other property tax related questions, please contact Crystal Morgan at BSM.   Read More

Bloom Sluggett Morgan Partners Recognized as Super Lawyers for 2013

The peer review group Super Lawyers, published by Thomson Reuters, has again named Cliff Bloom and Jeff Sluggett as Super Lawyers in the practice area of Government/Municipal Law.  We thank our clients for making this recognition possible.  Read More

LEGISLATIVE ALERT - Fireworks Regulation

A bill that gives local units of government greater control over consumer fireworks was signed into law as Public Act 65 of 2013 (“PA  65”) on June 19 by Lt. Governor Calley (on behalf of Governor Snyder who was on a trade trip).  PA 65 takes immediate effect and authorizes local units of government to regulate consumer fireworks during certain hours on the day before, the day of, and the day after a national holiday.  More specifically, PA 65 allows local units of government to enact an ordinance to regulate the ignition, discharge, or use of consumer fireworks on those days as follows:  Read More

Jeff Sluggett and Dick Butler Make Presentation to the West Michigan Regional Clerks Association

Jeff Sluggett and Dick Butler presented a seminar on May 17, 2013 at Muskegon Community College to the West Michigan Regional Clerks Association titled Legal Updates: Recent Developments for Local Government.  The presentation included topics such as Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, Open Meetings Act, Michigan Liquor Control Code, Freedom of Information Act, recall petitions, personal property tax and the financial impact of personal property tax legislation, among others.   Read More

New Medical Marijuana Ruling

On January 29, 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the uncompensated transfer of marijuana between registered qualifying patients constitutes protected "medical use" of marijuana as permitted by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act ("MMMA").  See People v Green, Docket No. 308133 (January 29, 2013), which can be found here.  While the Court of Appeals reaffirmed that patient-to-patient sales of marihuana are still not protected under the MMMA, Michigan v McQueen, 293 Mich App 644, 653; 811 NW2d 513 (2011), the decision in Green will not only impact enfocement of state statutes regarding the transfer or delivery of marijuana, but could have significant local impacts as well.  Our attorneys have extensive experience with the MMMA and drafting and reviewing local ordinances, including ordinances addressing medical marijuana dispensaries.  If your municipality is interested in discussing the Green decision or any other medical marijuana issues, please contact our office.  Read More

Urban Farming and the Michigan Right to Farm Act

Bloom Sluggett Morgan attorneys Crystal Morgan and Cliff Bloom recently co-authored a Special Feature article for the Michigan Township News November 2012 edition entitled Urban Farming and the Michigan Right to Farm Act. To see the full article on our Publications Page, click on the Municipal Articles link located on the right side of the page. For more information, contact Cliff Bloom.  Read More

The Importance of Getting it Right Regarding Wording of Municipal Ballot Proposals

At one time or another, most Michigan municipalities (cities, villages, townships, and libraries) place a millage proposal on the ballot. Unfortunately, the ballot language used by municipalities without legal assistance may be incorrect, unlawful, not broad enough, or all of the above. It is common practice for municipal clerks to simply utilize or extrapolate from past ballot language, either in that municipality or by reference to what other municipalities have done in the past. However, the statutory requirements for ballot proposals are complicated depending on the type of municipality, whether the millage proposal is for a new millage, a renewal millage, or a combined renewed and increased millage, and other factors. Accordingly, without preparation and review by legal counsel, mistakes can occur.   Read More

The Michigan Right to Farm Act and Urban Farming - Court Decision

Our attorneys were municipal co-counsel in the recent Michigan district court case of the People of Georgetown Charter Township v Sutton (Case No. 705-1652).  In that case, the Court held that what some people call “urban farming” is subject to local municipal zoning regulations, notwithstanding the Michigan Right to Farm Act.  The Court held that the GAAMPs under the Act did not shield a homeowner who kept chickens and goats in his backyard in an urban neighborhood from prosecution under local zoning regulations.   Read More

Special Assessment Districts For Lakes
 Made Easy

Assisting Townships with the Process
Setting up a special assessment district for a lake to fund efforts to control invasive and nuisance aquatic weeds is often a relatively easy solution to a complex problem.  Special assessment districts for aquatic weed control purposes have been in widespread use by many townships throughout Michigan for decades.  The Michigan Townships Association (“MTA”) often recommends such districts.  At the current time, it is likely that dozens (if not over 100) Michigan townships have such lake special assessment districts in place.  Read More

Cemetery Maintenance: More than Mowing the Lawn

Virtually every township in Michigan has at least one township owned cemetery. Some township officials, however, may not have a full grasp of the importance of this township service and the value and comfort that it can offer to the community. Few township topics engender such great public emotion as township cemeteries, and safeguarding this important component of a township's history remains a critical tether to residents' connection to their township.  Read More