Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit

410 Mich. 616, 304 N.W.2d 455 (1981)



Where condemnation power is exercised in a way that benefits specific and identifiable private interests a court inspects with heightened scrutiny the claim that the public interest is the predominant interest being advanced. Such public benefit cannot be speculative or marginal but must be clear and significant if it is to be within the legitimate purpose as stated by the Legislature.


The city planned to acquire land held by private owners under the authority of the Act in order to convey the land to a private company for the creation of an industrial site.  A neighborhood association, property owners, and residents, filed an action to prevent the city from taking land by condemnation under the Economic Development Corporations Act and giving the land to a private entity to promote industry and commerce. The trial court found that the city did not abuse its discretion in determining that the property was necessary for the project and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiffs challenged the decision, and the court granted the motion for immediate consideration and an application for bypass.


Is the taking of land by condemnation improper proper where it is for inclusion in an industrial development where the project promotes the public health and welfare?




The court affirmed and held that under Mich. Comp. Laws § 125.1622 the legislature authorized cities to acquire property by condemnation in order to provide industrial and commercial sites and the means of transfer from the cities to private users. The project was developed to promote the public health and welfare, which was authorized by Mich. Const. art 4, § 51 (1963). The primary focus of the project was the creation of jobs and the promotion of the public welfare, and the benefit created for the private corporation was incidental. Finally, the Michigan Environmental Protection Act did not apply where there was adverse impact on social and environment cultures.

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