Zoning it Out? – Applying Michigan’s Statutory Exclusionary Zoning Provision

  1. Zoning it Out? – Applying Michigan’s Statutory Exclusionary Zoning Provision

    Many townships often want to know the limits of Michigan law with respect to the standards applicable to zoning to avoid excluding certain land uses within their borders. Case law suggests that some communities may find it necessary to strictly regulate the location of uses and structures through their Zoning Ordinance, including billboards, renewable energy…

  2. Zoning Litigation – Enforcement in Circuit Court

    Introduction As we have explained at length in prior E-Letters, the enforcement of zoning violations is often best accomplished through the streamlined municipal civil infractions process. This process is simple, cost-effective, and quick. However, due to its simplicity and the limited nature of the proceedings before the district court, civil infractions are not always the…

  3. Can I issue a 10-business day extension under the FOIA in response to a received request without the approval or consent of the requestor? 

    Yes. MCL 15.235(2) lists the options for responding when in receipt of a request made under the FOIA. The FOIA permits a public body to respond by “[i]ssuing a notice extending for not more than 10 business days the period during which the public body shall respond to the request.” There is no requirement that…

  4. FOIA Denials: Common Basis Further Explored, Including the Privacy Exemption, Personal or Non-Public Records, and the Failure to File a Proper Request

    We have discussed the Freedom of Information Act (the “FOIA”), Act 442 of 1976, MCL 15.231 et seq., before in other e-letters, including the processing of good-faith deposit requests and election-related requests. Now, this e-letter focuses on and explores further some of the more common basis claimed by municipalities or public bodies for purposes of…

  5. The Great (Inland) Lakes State: Township Inland Lake Improvements

    Michigan is blessed with abundant natural resources, many of which are located within Michigan’s townships. Of those natural resources, Michigan is home to over 11,000 inland lakes. As Michigan’s townships encompass approximately over 95% of the state’s land area, most lakes are located within townships. Inland lakes offer numerous benefits to townships. They: (1) can…

  6. August 8, 2020 Presidential Executive Order and Memoranda

    On August 8, President Trump issued an Executive Order and three memoranda with the stated hope of reinvigorating the American economy despite Congress’s failure to strike a deal to relieve the economic impact of COVID-19. Two of the memoranda have potential impact on employers and employees alike. Payroll Taxes One of the memoranda directs the…

  7. 2020 Michigan Freedom of Information Act Legal Update: Court Imposes FOIA Disclosure Requirements on Municipal Attorney City Attorney and Important FOIA Takeaways

    Recent legal developments by the Michigan courts regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have both helped determine the scope of the statute and presented new legal challenges for public bodies. In 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision now requiring certain municipal attorneys to be subject to FOIA disclosure requirements. The impacts of…

  8. Masking Up in Michigan: Governor’s New Executive Orders Impose New Face Covering Requirements and Extension of Electronic Public Hearings Among Other Provisions

    From March through June, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued “Stay-at-Home” orders, restricting those who were not classified as essential workers. With recent restrictions lifted, COVID-19 cases have been increasing. In light of these increases, Governor Whitmer issued two new Executive Orders on July 17, 2020, to combat the spread of the virus. The first, Michigan Executive…

  9. Back to Work in the COVID-19 ERA

    With the Michigan Stay at Home Order being lifted and resumption of operations pursuant to Michigan Executive Order 2020-114, townships now face new challenges as they bring employees back to work. Employees may have concerns or fears about reopening plans, medical challenges, or family care obligations that will impact ability (or willingness) to return to…

  10. I Won my Ordinance Enforcement Case … Now What???

    Congratulations! You have made it through the hardest part of ordinance enforcement by obtaining a judgment.  But now what? Often obtaining the judgment is not the final step in the process. Many times parties remain at a disconnect following a Court’s final order and compliance does not come voluntarily. This E-Newsletter will examine the appropriate…

  11. Township Operations Affected by Governor Whitmer’s “Stay at Home” Orders

    Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s March 24 Executive Order 2020-21, mandating that individuals to “stay at home” in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has now been extended through May 15 by Executive Order 2020-59, with some activities being allowed to slowly and carefully resume. Townships’ in-person government operations are subject to this Order, just as are…

  12. Employer Update: New Executive Order 2020-59 Extension of Shelter in Place

    Today, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-59, extending and altering the Stay Home, Stay Safe guidelines until May 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.  The business community is certainly thrilled to see a mild lift of restrictions there, but the Order does not otherwise change many of the current practices for our public sector clients,…

  13. Court Order Does Not Extend Nominating Petition Requirements for Township Officials

    Nominating petitions are due to be filed by candidates for public office by tomorrow—April 21, 2020. For many candidates, federal, state, and local municipal charters require candidates to obtain a specific number of signatures on a nominating petition. Those signature requirements are designed to show enough interest in and viability of a candidate to be…

  14. Considerations for Township Public Meetings and Hearings During COVID-19 Pandemic

    The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed the landscape for individuals and businesses. Townships are no different. Daily practices—whether personal or professional—are disrupted due to the widespread impact of COVID-19. Government directives from the Governor of Michigan and state and federal agency guidelines are treating municipal entities differently, however, as essential local operations and activities that…

  15. Governor Relaxes Open Meetings Act Requirements for Public Bodies

    At 4:46 p.m. March 18, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 2020-15, addressing numerous concerns regarding public meetings held during the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).The Governor’s Executive Order temporarily authorizes remote participation in public meetings and hearing. According to the Executive Order, rules and procedures relating to physical presence at meetings and hearings…

  16. Spending Public Money for a Public Purpose: A Township’s Beginner Guide to Lawful Expenditures

    Townships operate according to their annual appropriations resolution, from spending public funds to providing public services. Many of these public expenditures are clearly lawful, such as purchasing a fire truck or paying the hourly wage of township employees. Yet, there are other expenditures that arise in the normal operation of a township that routinely raise…

  17. 2020 IFA Conference and Client Dinner

      Attorneys Mark Burzych and John Forrest attended the 2020 IFA Conference in Orlando, Florida. Simply put, the IFA’s annual convention is franchising’s biggest event for business development and personal growth. It also gives us a unique opportunity to connect with our franchise clients who are in attendance. For the past several years, Fahey Schultz…

  18. The Present and Future Regulation of Mining Operations

    The siting of mining and extraction operations, such as gravel pits, can often be the source of great controversy. Although many residents view the proliferation of these land uses as damaging to adjacent properties, mining operations are considered valuable to state infrastructure and the economy according to certain interest groups. Due to this value and…

  19. Protecting the Township’s Data from Security Risks

    Townships should assess their policies and practices related to controlling Township cyberattacks and inadvertent disclosure of data. With the growth in the internet and rise in identity fraud, Townships should secure data and minimize the risk of unauthorized access or inadvertent disclosures. In this E-Letter, learn the importance of assessing Township security risks, leveraging exemptions…

  20. FSBR Congratulates its Newest Associate Attorneys on Their Recent Admissions to the Bar

    (Pictured left to right: Chad Karsten, Kendall O'Connor, Jacob Fox)  Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC would like to congratulate its newest associates – Chad Karsten, Kendall O’Connor, and Jacob Fox on their recent admissions to the bar. Admission to the bar signifies several years’ worth of studies, as well as the successful passing of the…

  21. 2019 Review of the State Tax Commission Bulletins

    The Michigan State Tax Commission (“STC”) is authorized to provide advise to municipal assessors. Each year the STC provides guidance through bulletins. In 2019, the STC released several bulletins that highlight procedural changes for assessors and county equalization directors (Bulletin 14) and the inflation rate modifier used in the assessing processing (Bulletin 15).  STC Bulletins The…

  22. Common Public Road Issues

    Public roads present unique challenges to townships and not just for basic transportation. This E-letter will address the historical development and regulation of roads, the different ways a road may be created (or vacated), and the current funding mechanisms for constructing, improving or repairing roads. Although the responsibility for various aspects of public roads is…

  23. Managing Social Media in the Workplace and Change in Overtime Rules for 2019

    Where employees used to huddle around the breakroom watercooler, they now huddle around their smartphones. Recent studies report that 69% of U.S. adults use at least one social media site, a staggering 88% of adults under 30 years old use social media in some form, and 77% of employees reported using social media on the…

  24. Join FSBR at MTA On The Road!

    Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes is an Allied Service Provider with the Michigan Townships Association and participates in many seminars, conferences and events held by the MTA. This October, FSBR will be joining MTA’s On The Road regional meeting series as an exhibitor in its Vendor Showcase. This is an exclusive networking opportunity for township officials…

  25. Eight Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes Attorneys Recognized as 2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

    Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC is pleased to announce that eight of its lawyers have been named 2019 Michigan Super Lawyers and Michigan Rising Stars. Only 5 percent of Michigan attorneys are recognized as Super Lawyers and only 2.5 percent are named Rising Stars. These designations are granted to attorneys who demonstrate the highest levels of…

  26. Township Law Legal Update: Recent Decisions Impacting Zoning and Planning (Part II)

    Further exploring the topic of recent zoning and planning decisions discussed in our June 2019 E-Letter (available here), the Michigan Court of Appeals issued other decisions that Townships should read. This month’s E-letter further explores additional court decisions from both the Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan Court of Appeals that impact final decisions of the…

  27. 5 Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC Lawyers Recognized in 2020 Best Lawyers® List

    Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC is pleased to announce that 5 of its lawyers have been selected for inclusion in the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, one of the oldest and most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession. To be be eligible for this distinction, lawyers must first be nominated. Next, they are reviewed by their peers on…

  28. The Rules Every Township Should Know About Recreational Marihuana Establishments

    In 2018, Michigan voters approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (“MRTMA”), which became effective December 6, 2018. Since the enactment of the MRTMA, the Marihuana Regulatory Agency (“MRA”) has been directed to establish rules for the upcoming deadline when applicants can first apply for licensure to operate adult use (“recreational use”) marihuana…

  29. Township Law Legal Update: Recent Zoning and Planning Decisions

    In the last year, the Michigan Court of Appeals has already issued multiple decisions that impact planning and zoning within townships. These issues come before the appellate courts quite regularly as zoning decisions that result in a denial can cause the aggrieved party to file suit. The decisions that result from such litigation may require…

  30. Lead and Copper Rule Changes–Impact on Townships

    Effective June 14, 2018 the State issued new lead and copper rules for water supplied to the public. The new rules will phase in new lead action levels, redefine what constitutes a “service line” and a “lead service line,” mandate new reporting, sampling, and line replacement requirements, as well as create water system advisory councils…

  31. Are Citizen Referendum Rights and Initiative Rights a Problem for Townships?

    Township officials are elected to township boards every four years. Townships are operated and governed by township boards, which are structured to be responsive to the residents of the township. Often, township boards are required to take certain actions that are necessary to preserve the health, safety and welfare of township residents. The residents, however,…

  32. Assessing Reform Under New Michigan Law — PA 660 of 2018

    For years, the State Tax Commission (STC) used a “14-point review” evaluation process to enforce statutes, administrative rules, and court decisions on the local townships, counties, and cities. A common complaint about the 14-point review was that the state standards were not clear, making compliance difficult. The 14-point review was replaced with the Audit of…

  33. New and Improved Paid Medical Leave: Rules to Live and Work By

    Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act (the “PMLA”) establishes eligible employees’ rights to accrue and use paid leave for personal and family medical needs. The Michigan Legislature enacted the PMLA to amend and (in part) replace the prior legislation on the same topic: the Earned Sick Time Act, which we discussed in our October E-Letter in…

  34. Goodbye “Emily!”: A Review of 2018 Lame Duck Laws Affecting Townships

    As 2018 came to a close, the Legislature rapidly passed a number of new laws, many of which impacted Michigan’s many townships.  These laws addressed issues ranging from anonymous FOIA requests from requestors like “Emily,” to fireworks regulations, assessing, and even drones! This E-Letter is designed to update you on these changes, so you can…

  35. Townships Got Run Over By Wireless Providers: Small Cell Towers Are Coming to Townships

    During the 2018 lame duck session, many bills were introduced, and some passed, attacking the authority of local government. Senate Bill 637 was one of those bills that did pass and was signed by Governor Snyder. It may have the greatest impact on all townships in 2019 as it opens miles of township rights-of-way with…

  36. Permissible Local Regulation of Recreational Marihuana in Michigan

    Initiated Law 1 of 2018, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (“MRTMA”) legalizes the cultivation, possession, and use of marihuana by adults over the age of 21. Essentially, recreational use of marihuana is legalized under state law. Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational use. Unfortunately, the language in…

  37. Mandatory Sick Leave: The Future!

    The Michigan Legislature adopted a proposed ballot measure, Michigan’s Earned Sick Time Act (the “Act”), as law on September 5, 2018. Under the Act, employers big and small, public and private are required to provide employees with paid and unpaid sick leave. Townships that already offer sick (or other) leave would be wise to review…

  38. Open Meetings Act Legal Update

    The Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) allows townships to enter closed sessions based on exemptions provided in OMA. Recent Court of Appeals decisions make clear that townships must specifically state the legal exemption for entering closed session. Townships often learn information or receive recommendations during such closed sessions, which involves voting on that information after leaving…

  39. Limits of Medical Marihuana Regulation and Legalization of Recreational Marihuana

    Two recent cases from the Michigan Court of Appeals dramatically undercut many municipalities’ use of zoning power to require permits or fees and control the location of caregivers and qualifying patients under the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA”). The limitations of these powers is in the wake of a potential shift towards legalization of…

  40. Townships With Websites Should Evaluate for ADA Compliance

    Townships have been increasing information accessibility by providing information online through websites and social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube. In 2015, the Legislature amended the Freedom of Information Act to account for the application of technology in government transparency. The added efficiency and outreach achieved with forms of online media…

  41. Ins and Outs of Collective Bargaining Part II

    In last month’s E-letter, we tacked the preparatory steps township bargaining teams should consider and undertake before collective bargaining actually begins (Steps 1 and 2).  This month, we discuss some basic rules of that bargaining process. STEP THREE: BARGAINING Townships should keep in mind four rules through the bargaining process. Rule #1 – Bargain in…

  42. Ins and Outs of Collective Bargaining Part I

    Municipal employees are the first line of service to citizens.  They put a “face” on local government.  Managing employees—and their benefits—in a fair, uniform way is critical to not only their performance, but also to providing quality service.  It is easy to lose sight of this focus with shrinking budgets and sky-rocketing benefits costs, particularly…

  43. Current Township Water & Sewer Issues

    Townships frequently contract with cities and villages for water and sewer service. In some cases, cities and villages demand township residents pay substantially more for the same sewer and water service than city and village residents pay. Sometimes, cities and villages charge township residents twice as much as city or village residents. Discriminatory and excessive…

  44. Impacting Wetlands: How to Handle Township Projects that Require Wetland Mitigation

    In an effort to preserve wetlands, restrictions and conditions have been placed on the use and development of wetland property in the form of wetland mitigation. Unfortunately, abiding by these stringent mitigation requirements can cause municipal projects to become more complicated, expensive, and time consuming. This E-Letter highlights township involvement in wetland mitigation and benefits…

  45. To Pay or Not to Pay: The Distinction Between Volunteers and Public Employees

    In today’s society, it is not uncommon to volunteer one’s services. You do not have to look far to find an employed man or woman freely offering their time to take part in an enterprise. However, there are some crucial issues raised by the philanthropic township employee who wishes to perform volunteer work for the…

  46. Top Ten Medical Marihuana Emergency Rules You Should Read

    Since the legislature adopted the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (“MMFLA”) establishing commercial medical marihuana facilities for the first time, the State of Michigan has created an agency, the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (“BMMR”), and directed the BMMR to establish emergency rules for the upcoming deadline when applicants can first apply for state licensure…

  47. Township Property Tax Update

    The Michigan Tax Tribunal (“MTT”), Attorney General’s Office, and State Tax Commission (“STC”) released updates regarding property tax issues and procedures this year that can help townships in the new year. In addition, the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have recently released property tax-related decisions that may impact how townships are assessing properties for…

  48. Township Law Legal Update: Recent Decisions Impacting Townships

    Laws that apply to townships are changed frequently by the Legislature and the courts. This month’s E-letter focuses on decisions handed down by the Michigan Court of Appeals that may cause changes as to how some townships are currently operating.  Some of the most interesting decisions from the last year address the enforcement of blight…

  49. The Michigan Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation Provides Direction on Upcoming Rules and Regulations

    Since the legislature adopted the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (“MMFLA”) establishing commercial medical marihuana facilities for the first time, townships have been discussing locally whether to allow such facilities within their jurisdictions. The State of Michigan has also been busy preparing for the upcoming deadline when applicants can first apply for state licensure to…

  50. Does Your Township Need a Solar Ordinance?

    In an effort to promote renewable energy within Michigan, the Legislature passed Public Act 342 in 2016. This Act amended Michigan’s Clean and Renewable Energy and Waste Reduction Act, originally passed in 2008. The Amendment promoted growth in Michigan’s renewable energy industry. Wind farms were developed throughout the state. More recently, townships are seeing a…

  51. Schultz is “Lawyer of the Year”

    For the third time in the last five years, Stephen Schultz was selected by his peers as “Lawyer of the Year” in the latest edition of The Best Lawyers in America.  Mr. Schultz is one of two attorneys in the firm designated as a 2018 “Lawyer of the Year” and one of five firm attorneys…

  52. Ten Strategies for Effective Ordinance Enforcement

    Many townships continue to struggle with ordinance enforcement. There are multiple reasons, including knowledge of the enforcement process, staffing, and costs. As those townships that have become embroiled in enforcement litigation are aware, the litigation costs can be significant and the results may not meet expectations. Many townships are left soured after their initial foray…

  53. Five Members are “Best in America”

    Five members of the firm have been selected for inclusion in the 2018 Edition of the national publication, The Best Lawyers in America.  The attorneys included are William K. Fahey, Administrative and Regulatory Law, Appellate Practice, Energy Law, Land Use and Zoning Law, Litigation – Land Use and Zoning, Litigation – Municipal, and Municipal Law;…

  54. Township Employees: The Corrective Action Process

    Like any other employer, townships have a constant interest in maintaining an efficient operation. This relies heavily not only on fiscal management, but also effective personnel management: the ability to recruit capable employees, appropriately correct those capable employees who stray from performance expectations, and appropriate separation of those employees who are not salvageable. Stated simply,…

  55. Is Your Personnel Policy Manual Out-Of-Date?

    We have often heard Township Officials state that they do not need an Employee Handbook or a Personnel Policy Manual because “We are a small Township with only a couple of employees,” or “Our Fire Department is all volunteers and they have their own Policies,” or “We adopted our policies years ago and they still…

  56. Township Law Legal Update: New Cases on Ordinance Enforcement and Townships’ Authority to Regulate

    When regulating property, townships face difficult decisions. Although townships may wish to rely on their police power to enact and enforce ordinances promoting the health, safety, and general welfare of their residents, they must be sure to do so without violating a citizen’s due process rights or other relevant law. Recently, the Michigan Court of…

  57. Property Tax Update

    The Michigan Tax Tribunal (“MTT”) released updates regarding the 2016 calendar year and new procedures for 2017. In this E-Letter we discuss and highlight those updates. In addition, we highlight some recent, relevant decisions of the Michigan Court of Appeals. Michigan Tax Tribunal Updates MTT by the numbers for 2016 5,800: open cases at the…

  58. Top Ten Questions Newly-Elected Officials Have

    In November of last year, many new township board members joined the municipal community as supervisors, treasurers, clerks, and trustees. The duties and obligations of each elected office vary substantially. Even so, survey results and trending data from these new officials demonstrate a consistent interest in learning the basics in ten areas of township governance….

  59. The Emerging Trend of Wedding Barns

    New uses are always impacting how a township applies or amends its regulations. Numerous townships have seen an emerging trend where historic agricultural barns of the past are converted to provide a new venue for weddings, conferences, and parties. Since these barns are often located in the rural areas of townships, the new commercial operation…

  60. 2016 In Review: Important Open Meetings Act (OMA) Decisions

    Like many aspects of township law, developments in technology and the prevalent use of email and cellphones has made compliance with the OMA increasingly complex. Typically, these developments occur in court cases, which can involve differing opinion as to how this statute applies to new technology. This E-Letter summarizes the significant OMA decisions regarding these…

  61. 2016 In Review: Important Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Decisions

    Like many aspects of Township law, recent legal developments under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have made it increasingly complex to be in compliance with these statutes. The Michigan courts released several significant decisions addressing the FOIA. The courts continued with last year’s theme, continuing to enforce the longstanding principle that the FOIA is…

  62. The New Law On Commercial Medical Marihuana Facilities

    After years of uncertainty about the voter-initiated Medical Marihuana Act, last month the legislature took a big step toward clarification in the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (“MMFLA”). The MMFLA allows commercial medical marihuana facilities for the first time, but licenses and taxes them. The new law permits townships to choose whether they want commercial…

  63. FREE NEWLY-ELECTED OFFICIALS WORKSHOP

    Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC is offering a free township law workshop for newly-elected officials! In one afternoon, our township law attorneys will cover key topics of township governance that will assist any newly-elected township official. These topics include: Managing Township Meetings and Information Township Employment Law Basics Zoning and Land Use Ordinance Adoption and Enforcement…

  64. Understanding Cable Franchise Requests

    Many townships in Michigan struggle with cable franchise requests, either as new requests for franchises or renewals of current franchises. Some of these requests come from cable service providers referencing federal laws and procedures, while others are referencing state laws and procedures. Even more confusing, the occasional cable service provider contacts a township asserting rights…

  65. Township Law Legal Update (Part II): Recent Court Decisions Reaffirm Township Authority to Regulate Local Concerns

    Returning with our second part on township law legal updates, we review decisions impacting township authority to regulate local concerns provided under constitutional and statutory authority. This authority is not always specific, however, and the Legislature and courts are frequently called upon to clarify municipal authority. This month’s E-letter focuses on decisions handed down by…

  66. Township Law Legal Update (Part I): Recent Zoning and Planning Decisions

    Laws that apply to townships are changed frequently by the Legislature and the courts. This month’s E-letter focus on decisions handed down by the Michigan Court of Appeals impacting zoning and planning. As economic activity increases, so do requests for zoning action. Some of the most recent developments in the last year provide assistance to…

  67. Big Box Stores: Finding New Solutions

    In our March E-Letter, we recounted the serious setbacks that big box stores have been handing to taxing jurisdictions in the Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT) for the last five years. The MTT has been assigning low taxable values to big box stores by comparing them to “dark” stores that sold for lesser uses. But recently…

  68. Noise Ordinances Under Attack

    Townships often use police power ordinances for the regulation of noise. But noise regulation presents unique problems in determining how to objectively determine when a certain noise reaches the threshold of being too loud for a community. In addition to the standard issues of authority and reasonableness inherent in any kind of regulation, noise regulations…

  69. Common Employment Issues and Policies

    There are many employment issues and very few “one-size-fits-all” answers. But there certainly are a core set of employment concepts and policies that your township should consider that will enrich employment relations and, if necessary, improve your township’s defense against employment-related litigation and claims. This E-Letter explores this core set of employment concepts and policies….

  70. The Big Box Store Pandemic Has Slashed Tax Base for Townships Due to Michigan Tax Tribunal Rulings

    For over five years, the Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT) has been ruling against townships, sending the message that big box stores are not worth what they cost to build. The MTT has been assigning low taxable values to big box stores by comparing them to “dark” stores that sold for lesser uses. Several court cases…

  71. Drain Code Basics: Ten Things Townships Should Know

    Michigan’s drainage laws originated well before it achieved statehood, but are no historical artifact. Despite the long history of drainage law, many of the basic legal principles and procedures regarding drains are interrelated with Township activity. These laws are compiled in the Michigan’s Drain Code, which constantly evolves to meet the State’s needs. This E-Letter…

  72. Election Law Restricting Municipalities On Local Ballot Questions Enjoined

    Earlier today, United States District Judge John Corbett O’Meara issued an order temporarily enjoining the State from enforcing § 57(3) of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, MCL 169.257(3). This was the recent law that prevented townships and other public bodies from communicating regarding local ballot questions during the period 60 days before an election. The…

  73. Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC Elects New Officers

    The Members of Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC, a leading boutique mid-Michigan law firm, have elected Mark J. Burzych as President and Ross K. Bower as Vice-President of the law firm. Stephen O. Schultz, who served as President since co-founding the firm in 2008, has passed the torch so he can focus on a few…

  74. State Tax Commission Update

    A new tax year is upon us! Last December, the State Tax Commission (“STC”) released several new bulletins that provide guidance to assessors of local units of governments. In this E-Letter we discuss and highlight those bulletins. In addition to the new information regarding property taxes, we would be remiss to not highlight the recent…

  75. Mark Burzych to Speak at Craft Beverage Workshop

    Come learn with Mark Burzych, our experienced business attorney, who will be speaking at the Craft Beverage Entrepreneur’s Workshop.  The Workshop will be held on February 12, 2016, at the Grand Rapids Doubletree Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is geared toward helping new craft beverage businesses navigate the early stages of establishment.  Mark will…

  76. Township Law Legal Update: Part II

    In September, we issued Part I of our series on Township Law Legal Updates, which you can find in the Township Law Resources section of our website. This year the Township Law Legal Update has been divided into two updates, as numerous developments in the law have occurred that could not all be addressed in…

  77. Dealing with Distressed Properties

    Recently the economy has seen an uptick and property values are restoring, as well as townships’ tax basis.  Prior to this resurgence, however, the 2007-2009 economic collapse caused substantial foreclosure rates, devastating some communities and leaving unoccupied vacant structures.  In other communities, a few vacant properties with overgrown lawns and an accumulation of trash were…

  78. Township Employees and Collective Bargaining

    Collective bargaining for townships presents unique challenges that do not exist in the private sector. As the decision makers, township officials face constant oversight by their constituents throughout the bargaining process. As a result, the process that happens behind closed doors is still subject to an overlay of politics, public opinion, and concern over the…

  79. Township Law Legal Update: Part I

    Laws that apply to townships are changed frequently by the Legislature and the courts. The courts hand down new interpretations that must be followed by township officials on a regular basis. Some of the most recent developments in the last year are discussed for the benefit of township officials in this first part of a…

  80. Delinquent Personal Property Tax Collection

    Although personal property tax has seen significant revisions by the Legislature in the past two years, collection of personal property tax remains an issue for many Townships. Townships often focus on real property tax calculation for prudent reasons. Namely, delinquent personal property tax collection in any jurisdiction is typically a small amount compared to the…

  81. Property Tax Legal Update

    This edition of the E-Letter provides you with an update on developments in the area of property tax law.  As you will see, there have been recent decisions of the Michigan Supreme Court and Court of Appeals covering a variety of property tax matters.  We hope that this information will help you in any current…

  82. Regulating Signs

    Townships often use zoning ordinances and police power ordinances for the regulation of signs. But sign regulation presents unique problems not encountered in the regulation of other land uses. In addition to the standard issues of authority and reasonableness inherent in any kind of land use regulation, signs raise issues of free speech and expression…

  83. Client Congratulations!

    The franchise lawyers at Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC would like to congratulate our client and friend, Bridgett Tubbs-Carlon, a recent award recipient of EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year.  On June 11, 2015, she was awarded the 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Michigan and Northwest Ohio region for her role as founder…

  84. How to Regulate Wind Energy Projects

    Although wind turbines have been used for centuries, recent advancements in technology have made wind turbines a viable source of alternative renewable energy. The increase in demand for energy produced from wind has caused a proliferation of commercial-scale wind farms in Michigan. The location and siting of large wind turbines in a small area may…

  85. Ethical Considerations for Township Officials

    Michigan law imposes some clear standards and other less-defined standards of conduct for township officials. Violations of these standards of conduct may have civil or criminal consequences. Adhering to these standards of conduct can avoid political turmoil, legal proceedings and civil or criminal liability. Newspaper headlines sometimes highlight public board members doing wrong, injuring the…

  86. Changing Retiree Health Benefits–Can It Be Done?

    Retiree healthcare benefits are a massive liability that place great stress on already-stressed municipal budgets. Unpredictable changes in healthcare costs and modifications to the health insurance industry under the Affordable Care Act have rendered many existing employee benefit packages unsustainable or even unavailable, leaving townships to question what can be done to reduce cost or…

  87. Cooley Law School Professor Joins Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC

    John S. Brennan has joined the Okemos, Michigan law firm, Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC as a litigation professional focusing on civil litigation handled by the firm’s growing business and municipal practices.  He becomes the 12th attorney at the law firm, which now serves more than 150 municipalities, drain commissioners, libraries and public authorities, as…

  88. 2015 Employment Law Update: Part I

    Effective township governance includes the responsibility of being an effective employer. This responsibility requires townships to face many concerns that other employers face in the management of employees. In this first part of our two-part series on effective employment practices, we look at some common employment issues that can turn into traps for townships and…

  89. Private Disputes: When Should the Township Get Involved?

    Private disputes can arise quickly and turn once-friendly neighbors into plaintiffs and defendants. In an effort to avoid being involved in costly litigation, townships should understand the common property disputes and have a general knowledge of those disputes and the proper way to handle them to avoid getting into trouble in the process. In this…

  90. FSBR Attorneys Present at MTA’s 2015 Annual Educational Conference

    Come meet our township attorneys as they discuss hot topics during the educational sessions for township officials at the MTA’s Annual Educational Conference & Expo. The conference will be held January 27-30, 2015 at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. Our township attorneys will be speaking on the following topics. Click on each attorney’s name to…

  91. Township Considerations when Providing Industrial Property Tax Abatement and Incentives under PA 198 of 1974

    With growth in the labor force and manufacturing industry, townships are seeing more interest in tax abatement opportunities. Tax abatements are a reduction of, or exemption from taxes granted by the government. While local tax abatements are limited, there are some state-level tax abatements available under the Plant Rehabilitation and Industrial Development Districts Act, PA…

  92. Common Open Meetings Act Myths

    As most township officials know, there are numerous requirements to consider in complying with the Open Meetings Act (OMA). Many of the compliance requirements have become common knowledge among township officials. However, some widely accepted beliefs regarding the OMA are nothing more than myth! The following “myths” have been inspired by actual events and Court…

  93. Common Freedom of Information Act Myths

    Last month we asked our readers whether their townships had Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policies. Fifty-eight percent of the responses indicate that township FOIA policies have all been updated within the last five years, which is great! Many of the compliance requirements for FOIA have become common knowledge and will be incorporated into these…

  94. Fire Department Financing and Cost Recovery

    There are three general sources of funds for financing fire department operations: taxes, special assessments and fees. No single one of these sources is exclusive, and many townships rely to some extent on each of these funding sources for their fire departments. However, each source of funding provides its own advantages and disadvantages, as well…

  95. Burzych is “Lawyer of the Year”

    A member of the Okemos-based law firm of Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC, has been selected as “Lawyer of the Year” by peers for inclusion in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, which is published by U.S. News annually.  Mark J. Burzych has been named the Best Lawyers’ 2015 Lansing metropolitan area…

  96. 2014 Township Law Update

    The laws that apply to townships are unique and not well understood by ordinary citizens and even most lawyers. These laws are also constantly developing, with new interpretations being handed down by the courts on a regular basis. Some of the most recent developments in this changing body of law are discussed for the benefit…

  97. Special Assessments For Roads

    Most Michigan residents can probably agree that something needs to be done to improve our crumbling roads. But after much talk in Lansing, we still do not have comprehensive reform for road funding. In August and November this year, many townships are going to the polls to seek or renew substantial road millages. But without…

  98. Do We Need A FOIA Policy?

    Michigan townships commonly adopt policies covering a wide range of subjects. Some are required, but others are just a good idea. For example, with requests for township records, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not mandate a policy, but if you want to recover your reasonable costs of responding to such requests, a policy…

  99. 2014 Property Tax Update — Part II

    Last month, our E-Letter focused on some of the recent developments in property tax law. This month, our E-Letter addresses additional developments in property tax law, more changes at the Tax Tribunal, and an update on personal property taxes. In addition, this E-Letter includes an important update on Federal Flood Insurance reforms. Changes at the…

  100. 2014 Property Tax Update–Part I

    It is property tax time again! As Boards of Review close and assessment rolls are finalized, it’s time for another Property Tax Update. This E-Letter focuses on recent developments in property tax law, changes in procedures at the Tax Tribunal, the Walgreens personal property appeals, and an update on Big Box appeals. Knowing about these…

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