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e-Journal Summary
Opinion Date: 04/24/2014
e-Journal Date: 04/28/2014
Full Text Opinion

Practice Area(s):   Municipal
Constitutional Law

Issues: Facial challenge to the constitutionality of an ordinance creating an "unreasonable-to-repair presumption" related to demolishing an unsafe structure as a "public nuisance"; "Significant property interest"; Dow v. Michigan; Substantive due process; TIG Ins. Co. v. Department of Treasury; Whether a zoning ordinance is reasonable; City of N. Muskegon v. Miller; Whether the unreasonable-to-repair presumption bore "any reasonable relationship to a legitimate governmental interest"; Nuisance abatement; MCL 125.486; Whether the ordinance was "an arbitrary and unreasonable restriction on plaintiffs' constitutionally recognized property interests"; Brae Burn, Inc. v. Bloomfield Hills; Procedural due process; Mathews v. Eldridge; Armstrong v. Manzo; Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Comm. v. McGrath; Goldberg v. Kelly; "Substantial weight" given to the procedures provided for by those holding legislative office; Dearborn Twp. v. Dail; Facial challenges to the constitutionality of an ordinance; Judicial Attorneys Ass'n v. Michigan; Council of Orgs. & Others for Educ. About Parochiaid, Inc. v. Governor; City of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publ'g Co.; Separate legal tests for substantive and procedural due process; Wolff v. McDonnell; Daniels v. Williams; Hannah v. Larche; "True cash value" (TCV); Brighton Code of Ordinances (BCO)
Court: Michigan Supreme Court
Case Name: Bonner v. City of Brighton
e-Journal Number: 57004
Judge(s): Kelly, Young, Jr., Cavanagh, Markman, Zahra, McCormack, and Viviano

The court held that the ordinance at issue (BCO § 18-59) did not constitute an unconstitutional deprivation of substantive due process, and that the defendant-city's existing demolition procedures provided property owners (including plaintiffs) with procedural due process. Thus, it reversed the Court of Appeals' judgment and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. The case involved plaintiffs' facial challenge to the constitutionality of BCO § 18-59, which created "a rebuttable presumption that an unsafe structure may be demolished as a public nuisance if it is determined that the cost to repair it would exceed" 100% of its TCV "as reflected in assessment tax rolls before the structure became unsafe." As a preliminary matter, the court clarified that plaintiffs' substantive due process and procedural due process claims implicated "two separate constitutional rights," and that it had to analyze each claim under separate constitutional tests. Thus, the Court of Appeals "erred by improperly conflating these analyses and subsequently determining that BCO § 18-59 facially violates plaintiffs' general due process rights." When each due process protection was separately examined pursuant to the proper test, the court concluded that the ordinance did not violate either protection on its face. The court held that "the ordinance's unreasonable-to-repair presumption is reasonably related to" the city's "legitimate interest in promoting the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens." Further, it was "not an arbitrary and unreasonable restriction on a property owner's use of his or her property because there are circumstances under which the presumption may be overcome and repairs permitted." As to plaintiffs' procedural due process claim, the court concluded that "the prescribed procedures are not faulty for failing to include an automatic repair option, which is, in essence, plaintiffs' substantive due process argument recast in procedural due process terms." For purposes of their facial challenge, it was "sufficient that aggrieved parties are provided the right to appeal an adverse decision to the city council as well as the right to subsequent judicial review." In order for their facial challenge to succeed, plaintiffs had to show that no aggrieved property owner could "meaningfully exercise their right to review or that such review is not conducted impartially." Since they did not do so, they failed to show that BCO § 18-59, on its face, violated their procedural due process rights. The Court of Appeals erred in determining that the ordinance was facially violative of due process.

Full Text Opinion

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