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E-M:/ Good lawsuit wins in Meridian Township
- Subject: E-M:/ Good lawsuit wins in Meridian Township
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- Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 13:45:19 -0400
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- List-name: Enviro-Mich
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Enviro-Mich message from "Your Name" <email@example.com>
Two important lawsuits have been resolved within the last 10 days
regarding land use issues in Meridian Township, east of East Lansing
in Ingham County. The first is a Michigan Court of Appeals decision
that upholds the validity of a zoning referendum that overturned a
zoning decision of the Township Board which served from 1996-2000. A
press release from the Township is below, and I am very proud that the
current Township Board defended not only the soundness of the land use
decision, but also the right of the citizens to use referenda to hold
their elected officials accountable for land use decisions. The
decision was 2-1 and these can be found on the Court of Appeals
The second case involves a challenge to the Meridian Township wetlands
setback ordinance, which the MI Supreme Court declined to hear,
upholding the Appeals Court decision supporting the Township again.
The press release on this case is also below. Please let me know if
you would like more information about these cases.
Meridian Twp. Trustee
For Immediate Release:
October 22, 2004
COURT UPHOLDS MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP VOTER REFERENDUM
The Michigan Court of Appeals this week sided with Meridian Township
in rejecting a lower court?s ruling on a voters? referendum regarding
the Newman Equities property near Central Park Drive.
In its Oct. 21 opinion, the three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of
Appeals, concluded that the Ingham County Circuit Court had ?erred in
reversing the voters? decision? when it agreed with Newman Equities,
owners of the property, that the voter referendum was invalid.
?This decision upholds the residents? right to have a say in the
zoning of their communities everywhere in Michigan, not just here in
Meridian Township,? says Meridian Township Trustee Anne Woiwode. ?Our
residents voted five years ago to keep this property residential and
the courts agreed with them.?
In concluding that the Ingham County Circuit Court had erred, the
higher court also wrote that ?there is at least a legitimate
difference of opinion whether residential zoning on the subject
parcels is appropriate, meaning that the voters decision was not
unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious.?
The 40-acre parcel is located between Powell Road and Central Park
Drive. In 1999, the previous Meridian Township Board had rezoned the
land from residential to commercial development upon request of Newman
Concerned about increased commercial growth and traffic, Meridian
Township residents launched a petition drive?led by Woiwode and
Patricia Hagen, a former Meridian Township Planning Commission chair ?
that sought to put the question on a ballot. Voters overturned the
township board?s decision by 3,553 to 2,084?a decision that would keep
the land residential.
Calling the decision a ?victory for township residents,? Meridian
Township Trustee Julie Brixie noted that some have criticized the
township board for defending itself in development disputes. ?There
are times when it?s important to fight for our principles.?
She also emphasized that the ruling could serve to help the Okemos
School District, which has been facing declining enrollment. ?When
this is developed as residential property, the district will benefit
because it will help generate more students for its schools.?
The township?s pursuit of a decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals
was also hailed by the Michigan Townships Association. ?We want to
thank Meridian Township for its excellent presentation of issues in
this case that are of state-wide importance to local governments
throughout Michigan,? said MTA Executive Director Larry Merrill.
?The Michigan Court of Appeals has clarified that it will not attempt
to thwart the will of local citizens to determine their communities'
land use character when there is a reasonable basis for a decision
arrived at through the referendum process," he added.
# # # # #
For Immediate Release:
October 27, 2004
Court Upholds Meridian Environmental Protection Ordinance
The Michigan Supreme Court?s recent refusal to consider further
appeals has effectively ended a long standing challenge to one of
Meridian Township?s environmental protection ordinances.
Forsberg Family LLC had sued Meridian Township over the
constitutionality of the Township?s water features setback ordinance.
The developer had requested a variance to construct a parking lot and
road without providing a required 20? setback from the edge of a
wetland on the site. The Township denied the variance.
The Township won the case in both the Circuit Court and the Court of
Appeals. With the Supreme Court?s latest order the developer,
Forsberg Family LLC., has unsuccessfully exhausted the appeals process
against Meridian Township.
The validity of the Township?s water features setback ordinance was
upheld by the courts in Forsberg v. Meridian Township. Calling the
courts rulings a ?victory for the environment? Township Trustee Julie
Brixie states ?The courts agree that Meridian Township has a right to
preserve and protect our valuable natural resources?.
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