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Who is responsible for sidewalks within an unincorporated village in the township?

The township has jurisdiction over sidewalks within township boundaries, regardless of the existence of the unincorporated village. “A municipal corporation in which a sidewalk is installed . . . shall maintain the sidewalk in reasonable repair.” MCL 691.1402a. A municipal corporation may be a city, village, or township. MCL 691.1401(d). Therefore, an unincorporated village does not qualify as a municipal corporation under the statute, which means that it is not required to maintain the sidewalk.

Further, in cases where the sidewalk in question was within the limits of a street in an unincorporated village in the township, Michigan courts have concluded that those sidewalks are “under the care and control of the township authorities,” and that “there is liability on the part of the township for its failure to keep those sidewalks in reasonable repair for public travel.” Welton v Crystal Twp, 152 Mich 486, 493; 116 NW 390 (1908); Listanski v Canton Charter Twp, 206 Mich App 356, 373; 523 NW2d 229 (1994).

Finally, MCL 41.288a states that “the township board of a township may order the construction, repair, or maintenance of, or may contract, repair, or maintain sidewalks in a designated area within the township because of the health, safety, or welfare of the residents of the township.” There is no similar grant of statutory authority for unincorporated villages, which suggests that the incorporated township is responsible for the sidewalks within the unincorporated village in the township.

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