Law School Case Brief
Braun v. Ann Arbor Charter Twp. - 262 Mich. App. 154, 683 N.W.2d 755 (2004)
A judicial challenge to the constitutionality of a zoning ordinance, as applied to a particular parcel of land, is not ripe for judicial review until the plaintiff has obtained a final, nonjudicial determination regarding the permitted use of the land. A challenge to the validity of a zoning ordinance as applied, whether analyzed under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 as a denial of equal protection, as a deprivation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, or as a taking under the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment, is subject to the rule of finality. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the plaintiff has suffered an actual, concrete injury.
Charles and Catherine Braun, Edward and Muriel Pardon, and Colt Farms, Inc. (collectively, "landowners") petitioned defendant Ann Arbor Charter Township ("Township) to rezone approximately 363 acres of land from its current designation of A-1 agricultural and R-2 single-family suburban to R-3 single-family urban and R-6 mobile home park residential. The landowners submitted a petition for rezoning together with supporting documentation. The landowners attended two public hearings where the Township's planning commission considered the application. The Township's board of trustees denied the request. The landowners filed a complaint Michigan state court challenging the constitutionality of the zoning restrictions. The complaint included four separate counts: (1) violation of substantive due process; (2) exclusionary zoning—substantive due process; (3) equal protection violation, and; (4) inverse condemnation. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of the Township and the landowners appealed. The landowners argued that the trial court erred when it dismissed the action on the ground that it was not ripe for adjudication. The landowners asserted that there was no uncertainty regarding the permitted uses of the property as zoned and that they had exhausted all available administrative remedies.
Did the trial court err in dismissing the case?
The appellate court determined that the trial court did not err when it granted summary disposition in favor of the Township pursuant to Mich. Ct. R. 2.116(C)(4). A landowner had to show that he or she sought alternative uses of the property as zoned and was denied, thus leaving the property owner with land having no economically productive or reasonably beneficial use. The landowners did not petition the zoning board of appeals to seek review of the Township's decision or seek a variance to the current zoning scheme. Whether the variance was allowed or not allowed was a determination regarding the scope of the utility of the property as presently zoned. The mere fact that the regulation at issue deprived the landowners of its presumed ideal use of the property did not render their takings claim ripe for review. The landowners' constitutional claims were not ripe for judicial review.
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