This summary also appears under Tax
Issues: Poverty exemption from property taxes on residential property under MCL 211.7u; Claim that the respondent's board of review and the Tax Tribunal (TT) erred by basing their conclusions on the lack of specific documentation presented; Sietsema Farms Feeds, LLC v. Department of Treasury; ProMed Healthcare v. Kalamazoo; Nicholson v. Birmingham Bd. of Review; MCL 211.7u(2)(e); MCL 211.7u(2)(b); MCL 211.7u(4) & (5); MCL 211.7u(3); McMorran v. Wright; Due process; Brandon Twp. v. Tomkow; Notice; Cummings v. Wayne Cnty.; Fisher v. Muller; MCL 211.29(6); MCL 211.30(3); WPW Acquisition Co. v. City of Troy (On Remand); Consideration de novo; MCL 205.735a(2); Johnston v. Livonia; Kostyu v. Department of Treasury; Heindlmeyer v. Ottawa Cnty. Concealed Weapons Licensing Bd
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)
Case Name: Spranger v. City of Warren
e-Journal Number: 58859
Judge(s): Jansen and O'Connell; Dissent – Owens
The court reversed the decision of the respondent's board of review and vacated the judgment of the TT denying petitioner's request for a poverty exemption from her 2012 property taxes on her residential property in the respondent-City. It remanded the case to the TT for an independent consideration de novo of petitioner's request for a poverty exemption under MCL 211.7u for tax year 2012. Petitioner argued that the board of review and TT erred by basing their conclusions on the lack of specific documentation presented. Both determined that petitioner had failed to provide sufficient information as to her income and thus, could not prove that she satisfied the poverty guidelines under MCL 211.7u(2)(e). The court fully acknowledged that petitioner's written application was incomplete to the extent that it did not list the specific amounts of assistance that she was receiving through her "Bridge Card" and from family members. Although petitioner attended each regular session of the board of review on 3/19-3/21/12, she did not appear at the time set for her special hearing on 3/22/12. Counsel for respondent confirmed that "petitioner was never notified in writing of her special hearing," but "was merely told of the hearing date verbally, either by telephone or in person, by an unidentified employee of the" City. Respondent's attorney stated that the City "has never provided written notice of the time and date set for hearing to taxpayers seeking poverty exemptions." The court held that although petitioner's poverty exemption application was technically incomplete since it did not list the specific amount of her income, the board of review violated MCL 211.30(3), as well as petitioner's right to constitutional due process, by failing to ensure that she was adequately notified of her special hearing date and by failing to afford her a meaningful opportunity to be heard. It wished to make clear that the TT did not commit any error of its own in this case. The TT "does not have jurisdiction over constitutional questions . . . ." Thus, it lacked the authority to consider whether the procedures followed by the City and its board of review were sufficient to satisfy petitioner's constitutional right to procedural due process. Nevertheless, although the error was committed by respondent and its board of review, the only available remedy was a remand for a new hearing before the TT.
This summary also appears under Administrative Law
Issues: Application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for construction of an overhead transmission line; The Electric Transmission Line Certification Act (Act 30); MCL 460.568(5); The Public Service Commission's (PSC) acceptance of an expert's testimony over contradictory expert testimony; ABATE v. Public Serv. Comm'n; Whether the PSC's approval of petitioner-Michigan Electric Transmission Company's (METC) application for a CPCN allowed METC to violate municipal zoning ordinances and to take private property from landowners without due process; U.S. Const. amend. V; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 17; Notice, an opportunity to heard, and a written statement of findings; Michigan Elec. Coop. Ass'n v. Public Serv. Comm'n; MCL 460.569; MCL 460.566(1); MCL 460.568(2); Whether the PSC's act of granting a CPCN was subject to review; MCL 460.575(1); MCL 460.570(3); The Separation of Powers Clause (Const. 1963, art. 3, § 2); Preemption of the appellant-Township's ordinance regarding the placement underground of transmission lines; MCL 460.570(1); MCL 460.563(2); Whether a local ordinance can prevail over a conflicting CPCN issued by the PSC under Act 30; Const. 1963, art. 7, §§ 29, 34, & 22; City of Taylor v. Detroit Edison Co.; Lansing v. State of MI
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Har Co., LLC v. Michigan Elec. Transmission Co.
e-Journal Number: 58618
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Owens, Markey, and Servitto
In Docket No. 317872 the court rejected the appellants' (collectively, the Landowners) claim that the appellee-PSC did not follow the requirements of Act 30 (particularly MCL 460.568) in granting petitioner-METC's application for a CPCN for construction of an overhead transmission line. It held that they did not show that the PSC erred or abused its discretion in granting the application. In Docket No. 317893, the court held that under the "plain language of MCL 460.570(1)," the CPCN took precedence over the appellant-Township's conflicting ordinance that required a portion of the transmission line be constructed underground. Thus, the court affirmed in both cases and lifted the stay imposed pending the appeal. While the Landowners argued that METC did not prove that the proposed transmission line was needed, "MCL 460.568(5) does not specifically state that an applicant for a proposed transmission line must prove that the line is needed." However, "the PSC found that METC's proposed transmission line was needed to address a reliability issue." Further, the PSC was correct "that METC was not required to do a cost/benefit analysis of the Weeds Lake project, even though that project was estimated to cost $32 million more than the fourth transformer project. No statute required the METC to perform a cost/benefit analysis, and the PSC was not required to make its judgment based solely on cost. The reliability issue was the primary reason for METC seeking a CPCN to install a transformation line, and the evidence showed that the fourth transformer project would not solve the reliability issue." The PSC also "correctly found that METC's proposed route for the transmission line was feasible and reasonable, in spite of the fact that METC's proposed route did not get the highest score using METC's own scoring methods. MCL 460.568(5)(b) required only that the PSC find that METC's proposed route was feasible and reasonable, not that it was more feasible and more reasonable than any other route proposed by any party." The court also rejected the Landowners' claim that the PSC's approval of the application allowed METC to violate municipal zoning ordinances and to take private property without due process. Further, it concluded that the arguments that Act 30 preempted the Township's ordinance and was unconstitutional ignored "the clear language of constitutional provisions, MCL 460.570(1), and binding precedent."
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