By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
Since 1961 MLSA has filed several amicus curiae briefs to represent the interests of Michigan riparians. By definition, an amicus curiae brief generally involves a filing by a professional person or organization, that is not a party to a particular litigation, but is permitted by the court to advise it in respect to some matter of law that directly affects the case in question.
In the past 14 months, MLSA has been involved in filing two such briefs in cases before the Michigan Supreme Court (MSC). One was recently decided, and the other matter is in process.
FRASER TOWNSHIP v. HARVEY HANEY and RUTH ANN HANEY
(Supreme Court Case No. 160991, Court of Appeals Case No.337842, Lower Court Case No.16-3272-CH)
MLSA filed a brief in this matter early in 2021. The MSC court decision was issued on February 8, 2022. MLSA filed the amicus because the Court of Appeals (COA) had rendered a decision that applied a six year statute of limitations for actions involving local zoning ordinance violations. The MLSA brief argued that no such limitations applied and also emphasized the importance of local zoning to riparian property owners.
The Supreme Court sided with Fraser Township and MLSA by overturning the decision of the COA. The matter is complicated and we cannot provide in-depth specifics in this newsletter. However, Attorney Cliff Bloom will provide his full analysis and commentary in a future issue of The Michigan Riparian magazine. Be on the look out for his article.
LAKESHORE GROUP et al vs. MICHIGAN DEQ/EGLE
(Supreme Court Case No. 159033, Court of Appeals Case No. 341310, Court of Claims Case No. 17-000140-MZ)
This matter is in process and involves the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA), MCL 324.1701 et seq. Lakeshore Group contends EGLE violated the MEPA when it issued a permit and the court should invalidate that permit. EGLE contends it cannot violate the MEPA by issuing a permit, and should not be subject to court review.
Because the MLSA Board believes in the importance of MEPA protections, and because the MSC has invited briefs, we voted on December 15, 2021 to file an amicus in partnership with Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance. The brief is in progress and will be filed with the court during March 2022. Future newsletters will provide highlights from the brief.