Can two ordinance violations be listed on the same citation?

  1. Can two ordinance violations be listed on the same citation?

    Generally, yes; however, this may depend on the specific preference of the district court. It is a good idea to call and ask the district court prior to filing a ticket whether they want different ordinance violations on separate tickets. 

  2. Municipal Civil Infraction Citations: Ten Tips for Code Enforcement

    Municipalities and their residents want to ensure that ordinances are enforced to promote the general welfare of the community. The process of prosecuting most ordinance violations in court involves civil infraction citations and is statutorily provided for in the Revised Judicature Act, Chapter 87. In this month’s E-Letter, we present ten tips for code enforcement…

  3. A Guidebook to Robert’s Rules of Order: What You Need to Know!

    In this month’s E-Letter, we will consider the relevance of Robert’s Rules of Order in the context of your Township’s meeting procedures. This E-letter will discuss the scope of Robert’s Rules, and the various types of rules that are addressed. It will further explore that Robert’s Rules is non-binding on Townships, and only those Townships…

  4. Michigan Public Cemeteries: Municipal Control & Liability

    Numerous state statues grant municipalities the authority to create and manage public cemeteries. This e-letter explores concepts related to municipalities operating local cemeteries, including legal principles relating to burial space ownership and new case law concerning legal liability in the event of burial mistakes. MUNICIPAL CONTROL OF CEMETERIES Michigan treats the purchase of a cemetery…

  5. Review Your Tips Processes Now or Pay Later

    Introduction As of the DOL’s fiscal year ended September 31, 2022, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (“DOL”) recovered over $27 million in back wages and illegally retained tips for more than 22,000 workers in the food service industry.[1] The reason? Employers improperly withheld and distributed tips that rightfully belonged to…

  6. Can a township employer discipline or terminate an employee who makes a false accusation of discrimination or hrassment?

    Employees should not be subject to discipline or termination for filing a complaint in good faith. In other words, if the employee had a legitimate belief that discrimination or harassment occurred, they should not be retaliated against even if their complaint is not substantiated in an investigation. If the employer has overwhelming evidence that an…

  7. What Every Township Employer Should Know About Discrimination, Harassment, and Hostile Work Environments

    Nearly everyone has heard the term “hostile work environment,” and just about everyone has some idea what harassment and discrimination are. But those terms and how they work in the employment setting is very commonly misunderstood by employees, department heads, and elected officials. This confusion can result in misunderstandings, inconsistent application of rules, and, at…

  8. 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…

  9. Election-Related Freedom of Information Act Requests: Common Examples and Best Practices

    Municipalities have a clear statutory duty to respond to Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests related to public records concerning the administration of an election. By appropriately responding to such requests, municipalities can build trust between their residents and local government leaders while avoiding unnecessary litigation. This E-Letter specifically explores election-related FOIA requests by discussing…

  10. Is it correct that the Township’s zoning board of appeals can decide the meaning of a provision in the Township zoning ordinance?

    Yes! Many townships consider the Zoning Board of Appeals to primarily handle variances. Variances are an individual’s request to ask for flexibility in the township’s strict application of the zoning ordinance so that a certain use can commence or structure can be constructed that would otherwise violate the zoning ordinance. A ZBA’s sole purpose, however,…

  11. Getting the Most out of Civil Infractions: Violation Notices, Informal Hearings, Warning Letters and Consent Judgments

    Many townships have adopted municipal civil infractions ordinances to provide for the streamlined enforcement of township ordinances in district court. However, even with this simplified process, enforcement can be an uphill battle. This E-Letter explores a few lesser-known tips and strategies that can save time and money while still getting results. A Quick Primer on…

  12. Will the Right to Farm Act prevent my township from enforcing bans on farm animals in residential districts? What about regulations on farm equipment?

    The RTFA will only preclude enforcement against the animal or equipment in question if several factors are met, and it is unlikely that these factors would be met in a residential neighborhood. The Right to Farm Act’s (“RTFA”) protections only attach if a supposed “farm” meets the following requirements: qualifies as a “farming operation;” is…

  13. Do You Know Your Rights as a Private Property Owner?

  14. Municipal

  15. 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…

  16. Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC ranked in 2021 “Best Law Firms”

    Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC has been ranked in the 2021 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally in 11 practice areas. Firms included in the 2021 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law…

  17. Short-Term Rentals: What You Need to Know

    “Short-term rentals” (“STRs”) generally refer to houses offered for temporary rental occupation, often facilitated by websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. The issue has gained significance in many communities, creating a hotly debated discussion over whether these uses are already allowed throughout various residential districts, and, if they are not allowed, whether a township…

  18. 10 Things Your Township Should Consider About Outdoor Dining and Retail Regulations

    Restaurant owners, entrepreneurs, and other businesses here and around the world have utilized outdoor dining or retail space to enhance the consumer experience for decades. With the emergence of COVID-19, however, there has been an increase in local municipalities questioning how to best support businesses while also adhering to social distancing and other preventative measures….

  19. Are Zoning and Building Officials under the Supervision of the Township Supervisor or the Board?

    Q&A Video Clips Are township officials under the direct supervision of the Supervisor or are they under the direction of the entire Township Board? Attorney Matthew Kuschel answers this question at the 2019 MTA Conference’s Q&A segment “We’re Glad You Asked That” At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted our annual Question and Answer…

  20. Can the Revenue from a Special Assessment be Applied to Delinquent Property Taxes?

    Q&A Video Clips Can the revenue from a special assessment be applied to delinquent property taxes? Attorney Chris Patterson answers this question at the 2019 Michigan Townships Association Conference’s Q&A segment “We’re Glad You Asked That” At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted our annual Question and Answer panel to address the questions you…

  21. Can the Township Fund a Holiday Party with Public Expenditures?

    Q&A Video Clips Can public expenditures be used to fund the Township’s holiday party? Attorney Kyle O’Meara answers this question at the 2019 Michigan Townships Association Conference’s Q&A segment “We’re Glad You Asked That” At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted our annual Question and Answer panel to address the questions you submitted. Our…

  22. Can Townships play a role in ensuring taxes earmarked for roads are used for their intended purpose?

    Q&A Video Clips Earmarked funds are sometimes diverted to other purposes instead of their intended use. Can the Township do anything to prevent this? Attorney Bill Fahey answers this question at the 2019 MTA Conference’s Q&A segment “We’re Glad You Asked That” At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted our annual Question and Answer…

  23. Can a private business request the Township’s entire electronic tax roll?

    A variety of private companies now submit these requests to townships throughout the state to, in-part, aggregate data to re-sell to their private customers. These companies often suggest “easy” ways to upload the electronic information hoping a township will not charge them a fee. Township can recoup expenses associated with having electronic public records available…

  24. Who Can Speak to the Township Attorney?

    Q&A Video Clips Who is allowed to speak with the township attorney? Attorney William Fahey answers this question at the 2019 MTA Conference’s “We’re Glad You Asked That Segment.” Every year, Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes hosts the Q&A segment of the Michigan Township Association conference to answer your questions At the MTA 2019 Conference, our…

  25. What happens if a property is written a violation, and then sold?

    Q&A Video Clips At the MTA 2019 “We’re Glad You Asked That” Q&A segment, Attorney Kyle O’Meara answers the question “If a property is written a violation, and then sold, but the new owner is unaware, what happens?” At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted our annual Question and Answer panel to address the…

  26. Can a zoning administrator also hold office as a township trustee?

    It may be valid under current law, but for practical reasons should be carefully considered. The statute governing whether an individual can hold two public offices is Michigan’s Incompatible Offices Act. See MCL 15.181. The Incompatible Offices Act establishes a three-part test to determine whether two positions are “incompatible.” If one position: (1) subordinates another…

  27. Can a Township Crowdfund for a Community Fundraising Project?

    Q&A Video Clips At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted our annual Question and Answer panel to address the questions you submitted. Our panel included Bill Fahey, Kyle O’Meara, Jacob Witte, and Matthew Kuschel, hosted by Christopher Patterson. Between them, this panel represents decades of experience in sectors ranging municipal law, public utilities, labor…

  28. Why Do I Need a Land Use Permit for Property I Wouldn’t Need a Building Permit For?

    Q&A Video Clips If you own property in a township, why do you need to get a land use permit for everything? Even things, it seems, that you wouldn’t normally need to get a building permit for? Attorney Kyle O’Meara answers the question at the 2019 MTA Conference. At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted…

  29. Is My Personal Laptop Subject to FOIA?

    Q&A Video Clips If I use my personal laptop to do work related to my official duties, is it possible my laptop could be subject to a FOIA request? Kyle O’Meara answers this question from the “Glad You Asked That” segment of the Michigan Township Association Conference. At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted…

  30. Can an Unmarried Spouse Sell a Home and Receive Veteran’s Exemption??

    Q&A Video Clips If a surviving spouse sells their home to buy another one in Michigan, will the unmarried spouse be allowed the veteran’s exemption? Chris Patterson relates the letter of the law and the perspective of the overseeing agencies involved, as well as recent changes and decisions regarding veteran’s exemptions. At the MTA 2019…

  31. What’s the legal spelling of Marijuana?

    Q&A Video Clips What’s the legal spelling of marijuana in Michigan? If I’ve opted-in to commercial medical marijuana, can recreational facilities come into the Township? These great questions are addressed by Attorney Chris Patterson. At the MTA 2019 Conference, our attorney’s hosted our annual Question and Answer panel to address the questions you submitted. Our…

  32. Can a county commissioner from a charter township also hold a seat on an ordinance writing committee for general law townships?

    You have asked whether a county commissioner from a charter township may also hold a seat on an ordinance writing committee for general law townships. The Incompatible Public Offices Act (the “Act”) prohibits a public officer from holding two or more incompatible offices at the same time. Under the Act, two public offices are incompatible…

  33. Can a Township be reimbursed for the costs of producing documents in response to a subpoena?

    The answer depends on whether the township is involved in litigation that is the basis of the subpoena. If the township is a party to the litigation (i.e., a plaintiff or a defendant), the township must bear the costs in assembling the documents responsive to the subpoena and the requesting party will bear the copying…

  34. Can a Township Supervisor also serve on the Planning Commission as a representative of the Township Board?

    Under the Planning Enabling Act, the Township Supervisor appoints the members of the Planning Commission, subject to approval by the Township Board. MCL 125.3815. This Section permits one member of the Township Board (or two in certain circumstances) to be appointed as a commission member of the Planning Commission for the length of his or…

  35. Can a Township prohibit the outdoor growing of medical marihuana by a patient or caregiver?

    No. On January 18, 2018, the Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA”) preempts a local township from adopting a zoning ordinance regulation that prohibits medical marihuana caregivers or patients from growing marihuana outdoors. The Court of Appeals determined that lawful medical use of marihuana under the MMMA included “cultivation.” According…

  36. Can a township allow the temporary operation of commercial medical marihuana facilities prior to receiving a state license?

    Yes. The Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (the “Department”) issued its emergency rules (“Rules”) that were promulgated under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Act (“MMFLA”). Rule 19 specifically addresses the temporary operation of state-licensed facilities prior to approval by the Department as long as the Township approves of temporary operation. Under Rule 19 (1)(a) and…

  37. 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…

  38. Can a Township Supervisor appoint a Deputy Supervisor who also acts as a Trustee for the Township?

    A Township Supervisor can appoint a Deputy Supervisor. The Deputy takes an oath of office and may be paid a salary or otherwise as determined by the Board. The Deputy serves at the pleasure of the Supervisor and acts in their absence, sickness, or other disability but will not have a vote on the Board….

  39. Can a township prohibit charitable or civic organizations from soliciting in an intersection within the township?

    No. A recent amendment to the Motor Vehicle Code (MCL 257.676b) expressly permits charitable and civic organizations to solicit in the streets. The amendment further prohibits a township (or any local municipality) from adopting any ordinance prohibiting such soliciting.  Those townships that ban charitable or civic organizations from soliciting have until September 25, 2017 to…

  40. Can a public meeting agenda be changed during a meeting?

    Generally, yes. For regular meetings, a member of the township board can move to amend the agenda to add a business item for discussion or action. For special meetings, however, the business to be discussed must be limited to the item(s) provided in the notice of the special meeting, unless all members of the township…

  41. Can a property owner claim a principal residence tax exemption on his or her home while living in an assisted living facility?

    Yes. In accordance with the General Property Tax Act (GPTA), “an owner of property who previously occupied that property as his or her principal residence but now resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility may retain an exemption on that property if the owner manifests an intent to return to that property by…

  42. Can a township hire someone for a public job without posting notice of the position to give the public a chance to apply for the position?

    Yes. Under MCL 41.75a, “[t]he township board may employ a township manager and other employees as are necessary.” There are no notice requirements for township hiring, other than giving public notice of the time, date, and place of the meeting in which hiring decisions are made in the manner required by the Open Meetings Act,…

  43. Can a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Planning Commission also work for the Township as a grounds keeper or employee working at a transfer station?

    No. The answer is based on prohibitions in the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act and the Michigan Planning Enabling Act regarding this situation. In other instances, elected or appointed positions must be reviewed to determine whether they are incompatible offices under MCL 15.181 et seq, and thus, the holding of both offices would be prohibited, subject…

  44. Can A Township Board Member’s Salary Be Reduced During That Official’s Term?

    No. The Township Board does not have this authority in a general law township unless two conditions are met. MCL 41.95(2) states that “the salary of an elected township official . . . shall not be decreased during the official’s term unless the responsibilities and requirements of that office are diminished and the official consents…

  45. Can a Township Supervisor unilaterally remove or replace members of the Township Planning Commission?

    No. The Supervisor does not have this authority. MCL 125.3815(9) states that “the legislative body may remove a member of the planning commission . . . .” The Township Supervisor is not the “legislative body.” Rather, MCL 125.3803(e) defines the Township Board as the legislative body of the township. As such, only the Township Board…