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Can a general law township rely on the powers provided to charter townships under the Michigan Charter Township Act?

No. Townships are organized as a municipal body with the powers and immunities provided to them by law. Michigan Constitution, Article VII, § 17. State law provides for two types of townships in Michigan. General law townships and charter townships. All townships are general law townships unless the township has followed the process under the Michigan Charter Township Act to be classified as a charter township.

General law townships are provided those powers granted under the Michigan Constitution and state law (see MCL 41.1, et seq.), as well as those fairly implied from such authorities. In contrast, charter townships have those powers enumerated under the Charter Township Act, and those powers provided to general law townships pursuant to MCL 42.1(2).

Accordingly, a general law township does not have the powers provided under the Charter Township Act until it follows the process to become a charter township. Even so, the general laws that set forth the powers granted to a general law township are similar to those powers provided to a charter township in many circumstances. So although many of the powers are similar between a general law township and a charter township, there are distinctions, such as delegation of administrative authority, certain annexation protections, and tax levy maximums.

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