Year in Review: 2020 Zoning and Planning Court Decisions

  1. Year in Review: 2020 Zoning and Planning Court Decisions

    Every year Michigan courts decide cases involving zoning and planning. 2020 was no different with several interesting cases deciding important zoning and planning concepts. Not all of these decisions created new law, but highlight important zoning and planning concepts that Townships deal with daily. This month’s E-Letter specifically highlights zoning and planning decisions related to…

  2. COVID-19 Relief: Federal and State Government Provide Economic Aid to Businesses & Individuals

    On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“COVID-19 Stimulus Act”), authorizing assistance to businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19, including but not limited to: 1) aid to businesses through the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Plan; 2) expanded unemployment benefits; and 3) direct payments to eligible individuals. Notably, the “COVID-19…

  3. Governor Signs Two Bills to Update Drain Code

    On December 29, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed House Bill 5126 and House Bill 5504 to provide updates to the Michigan Drain Code. House Bill 5126 modernizes certain procedures in the Drain Code of 1956. That same bill also corrects internal inconsistencies within Section 135 of the Drain Code created as a result of recent amendments….

  4. Does a Township Zoning Board of Appeals have to do more in its final decision than simply stating whether a request is granted or denied?

    Generally, yes. Typically, a Township’s Zoning Ordinance will provide for a written standard that must be applied when considering a request for a variance. Note there are certain criteria for variances established in the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, even if specifics are not provided in the Township’s Zoning Ordinance. See MCL 125.3604. The Zoning Board…

  5. W-2 or 1099? How to Utilize Independent Contractors Without Putting Your Township at Risk

    Many townships rely heavily on independent contractors for township services. Whether the township uses independent contractors to manage and maintain its cemetery, mow its parks, or clean the township hall, independent contractors are important service providers for many townships. Independent contractors are individuals who operate their own business and offer their services to the general…

  6. Governor Signs Bill Extending Remote Meeting Authority

    Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, drain commissioners across the state have been holding meetings of their public bodies (including boards of determination and the various drainage boards under the Drain Code) remotely through the use of platforms such as Zoom. This authority was first granted by executive order from the governor and later…

  7. Update Regarding the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ November 15, 2020 Emergency Order

    On November 15, 2020, the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (“MDHHS”) issued an emergency “Gatherings and Mask Order” (the “Order”). The Order imposes new restrictions on residential and non-residential gatherings and closes certain types of businesses, including bars and restaurants for indoor service, entertainment venues, recreational facilities, and other workplaces…

  8. Michigan Legislature Passes Bill to Extend Provisions for Public Bodies to Meet Remotely under the Open Meetings Act

    On December 9, 2020, the Michigan Senate voted 36-1 to pass Senate Bill 1246 (2020), a bill to amend the Open Meetings Act and extend the dates during which public bodies can meet remotely for any reason until March 30, 2021. The House voted to pass the bill on December 16, 2021, by a vote…

  9. COVID-19 Employment Law Update

    Return to Work After Close Contact The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recently updated its guidance regarding quarantine periods after a close contact with someone known or suspected of having COVID-19. The CDC previously recommended that those with a close contact exposure quarantine (and either miss work or work remotely) for…

  10. What is the relationship between Assessed Value, Taxable Value, and True Cash Value or Market Value?

    True Cash Value and Market Value have been determined by Michigan Courts to be synonymous terms. The tax statute uses the term True Cash Value. True Cash Value means the price a willing buyer and willing seller would agree to through an arms-length transaction of the subject property as of tax day. Tax day is…

  11. 2020 Property Tax Update

    The State Tax Commission (“STC”) is a three-member commission appointed by the Governor. The STC is the authority charged with supervising the administration of the property tax laws in Michigan. In 2020, the STC released bulletins that provide guidance to assessors of local units of government. In this E-Letter we discuss and highlight Bulletin 08:…

  12. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (“MDHHS”) Announces New COVID-19 Related Restrictions Amid COVID-19

    As of November 14, 2020, the State of Michigan has reported 251,813 cases and 7,994 deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Robert Gordon Director of the MDHHS announced additional COVID-19 related safeguards through a newly promulgated Gatherings and Face Mask Order (the “Order”) on November 15. The Order contains many updates that concern municipalities, including…

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