e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 61373
Opinion Date : 11/24/2015
e-Journal Date : 11/30/2015
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Conlin v. Upton
Practice Area(s) : Real Property
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – M.J. Kelly, Murray, and Shapiro
Full Text Opinion

Whether defendant-Dixboro Farms Property Owners Association’s (the Association) bylaws included additional restrictions on the use and development of the lots within the property and if so whether the Association could validly enforce those restrictions against the lots owned by plaintiffs (collectively the Developers); O’Connor v. Resort Custom Builders, Inc.; Eveleth v. Best; McQuade v. Wilcox; Whether the covenants authorized the imposition of new or expanded restrictions with less than unanimous consent; Ardmore Park Subdivision Ass’n, Inc. v. Simon; Enforcing the covenants as written; Rory v. Continental Ins. Co.; Whether Article XII imposed new or expanded burdens; Distinguishing Meadow Bridge Condo. Ass’n v. Bosca; Assignment of the right to approve; Burkhardt v. Bailey


The court reversed the jury’s verdict, vacated the judgment, and remanded for the trial court to enter an order granting partial summary disposition in favor of the plaintiffs-Developers in this real property dispute. The individual parties each own or owned real property in a residential development (Dixboro Farms). During the events at issue, the Developers owned 11 undeveloped lots, which they hoped to sell to third parties. The dispute arose after the defendant-Association “adopted bylaws that required the lot owners to submit plans to the Association’s architectural review committee for approval prior to any new construction or renovation. The Developers sued, in part, to prevent” the Association’s officers (the defendants-Officers) and the Association “from enforcing the bylaws in a way that restricts their right to develop their lots.” The trial court entered a final judgment and order after the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants. The dispute concerned “whether the Association’s bylaws include additional restrictions on the use and development of the lots within Dixboro Farms and, if so, whether the Association can validly enforce those restrictions against the lots owned by the Developers even though the Developers did not consent to the adoption of the bylaws.” The court held that the bylaws violated the “state’s common law requirement that covenants and restrictions be unanimously approved by all the affected property owners to the extent that the bylaws impose burdens on the individual members’ real property beyond those expressly provided in the covenants recorded in 2001.” The Association’s reliance on Meadow Bridge was misplaced. The original covenants and restrictions here “did not authorize the Association to adopt new rules or regulations, and the provisions in Article XII plainly impose restrictions which are inconsistent with the original recorded restrictions.” The court directed the trial court on remand to enter an order “declaring that the 2001 covenants and restrictions did not give the Association the authority to burden the lots with additional restrictions and did not give it the authority to add restrictions with less than unanimous approval. The order should further declare that Article XII of the bylaws is invalid and does not apply to the Association’s members to the extent that it includes burdens on their lots beyond those stated under” the 2001 covenants and restrictions.

Full Text Opinion