e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 70057
Opinion Date : 03/19/2019
e-Journal Date : 04/03/2019
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Gamut Group, LLC v. City of Lansing
Practice Area(s) : Constitutional Law, Zoning
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Stephens, Gleicher, and Boonstra
Full Text Opinion
Issues:

Denial of a rezoning application; Right to substantive due process; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 17; U.S. Const. amend. XIV; People v. Sierb; Plum Hollow Golf & Country Club v. Southfield; Dorman v. Clinton Twp.; Mettler Walloon, LLC v. Melrose Twp.; Identical treatment of substantive due process challenges to a rezoning denial & challenges to an existing zoning ordinance; Grand/Sakwa of Northfield, LLC v. Northfield Twp.; Whether the denial of rezoning was arbitrary & capricious; Hecht v. Niles Twp.; Kropf v. Sterling Heights; Requirements for a zoning ordinance to be valid; Albertson v. City of Saginaw

Summary

Finding no error in the trial court’s determination that the defendant-city’s rezoning denial warranted reversal on the basis that it was arbitrary and capricious, the court affirmed the order granting plaintiff-property owner declaratory and injunctive relief on its substantive due process claim. Plaintiff had owned a building housing an unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary since 2011. In 2017, the city passed a revised zoning ordinance (ZO) limiting “medical marijuana dispensaries to zoning districts F, F1, G2, H, and I, and required that they be licensed.” Knowing that the amendment was imminent, plaintiff sought to have its property rezoned to F. Although the city’s zoning administrator and planning board recommended approval, “despite any public objection, and despite that the other three corner lots at the intersection had been rezoned to F, the city council denied” the request. The trial court granted plaintiff summary disposition in its declaratory judgment action. The city asserted on appeal that a different standard should apply because plaintiff was not challenging the ZO’s validity, but rather the denial of its rezoning request. The court noted that it “has repeatedly treated substantive due process challenges to a rezoning denial identically to challenges to an existing” ZO. The city also contended in the trial court “that the new zoning regulations were intended to take dispensaries out of neighborhoods and contain them in business corridors.” But the city council did not explain its denial at the time of its decision. The trial court “sagely noted that the area in question is a business corridor and not a residential area, so the belated explanation for the city council’s rezoning denial could not be genuine. Moreover, the existing use would continue if the property was rezoned and there would be no change in traffic or the general character of the area. Rather, the denial of the rezoning request seemed to be political. As the city proffered no real explanation for why the denial of the rezoning request was necessary to preserve the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare,” the trial court properly ruled “that the denial did not advance a reasonable government interest and was instead arbitrary and capricious.”

Full Text Opinion