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Appeal of Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) decision to Circuit Court and general civil lawsuit
Municipal / January 16, 2020
Court/Case No: Oakland County Circuit Court/19-076108-AV
Tried/Argued Before: Judge
Demand: Modify the ZBA decision, remand the matter back to the ZBA, costs and attorney fees paid to Appellant from Appellees, issuance of a writ of mandamus, and declaratory relief
Verdict: Motion for Summary Disposition granted
Name of Judge(s): Honorable Rae Lee Chabot
Keys to the Case:
The owner of real property located in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan, appeared before the ZBA seeking variances of the required front yard and rear yard setbacks to construct a first floor and second floor addition, as well as front porch and terrace additions, on an existing legal non-conforming structure. Following the properly noticed public hearing, the ZBA granted the requested variances. The owner of the real property abutting the subject property at its rear property line filed a Claim of Appeal in the circuit court, which included civil claims, asserting that she was aggrieved by the ZBA grant of the requested variances because construction of the proposed addition would impair an adequate supply of light and air to Appellant’s home and would impair her view of the lake during the fall and winter seasons.
It was argued on behalf of the Appellees that declaratory relief cannot be awarded when no actual controversy exists on which to base a declaratory action and that a municipal zoning authority is not subject to the circuit court’s power of mandamus. It was further argued that Appellant, although represented by counsel at the ZBA hearing, failed to demonstrate that she suffered special damages which would establish her as an aggrieved party as that term is defined by the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (MZEA.) Without such demonstration, the circuit court lacks jurisdiction over the parties under the law and the appeal cannot continue to adjudication. It was further argued that, should the circuit court determine that Appellant had established herself as an aggrieved party, the appeal still fails as the ZBA decision was in compliance with the Constitution and laws of the State; was based on proper procedure; was supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence on the record; and represented the reasonable exercise of discretion granted by law to zoning boards of appeal. Following oral argument, the Court dismissed the appeal in its entirety, with prejudice, and without costs to any party.
Defense SW attorney(s) Involved in Case: