United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
GMS DEVELOPMENT HOLDING CO. 3, LLC, Plaintiff,
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT [DOC 19] AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. 20]
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
GMS Development Holding Co. 3, LLC (“GMS”) filed
this action alleging that its constitutionally protected
property interest and substantive due process rights were
arbitrarily and capriciously denied by defendant Bloomfield
Township (the “Township”) in violation of the
United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
matter is before the court on the parties' cross motions
for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below,
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED and
defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
Bloomfield Manor subdivision consists of 34 platted
subdivision lots located in Bloomfield Township. Plaintiff
owns three of the lots (the “Property”). The
Property is zoned R-3 Residential. A single family home is
currently located on each of the lots. The average size for
each of the lots in the subdivision, as developed, is 1.68
acres, with 73, 407 square feet of land area and 180 feet in
lot width. Plaintiff filed a Lot Split Application
(“Application”) with the Township requesting
permission to further divide the Property into eight lots.
The average lot size of the proposed lots would be 0.78
acres, with 34, 274 square feet of land area and 154 feet in
lot width. After holding three public hearings, the Township
Board unanimously denied plaintiff's proposed lot split.
Voelker is the Township's Director of Planning, Building,
and Ordinance. Voelker is responsible for reviewing Lot Split
Applications submitted to the Township. In preparation for a
meeting of the Township's Board of Trustees
(“Board”) and a public hearing on the Application
to be held on December 12, 2016, Ms. Voelker prepared a
memorandum reviewing the Application submitted by plaintiff.
Ms. Voelker concluded that the Lot Split Application was
complete and satisfied the seven objective criteria in the
Bloomfield Township's Lot Split Ordinance, but deferred
to the Board to determine whether the proposed division met
the subjective “compatibility” factor in the Lot
Board denied plaintiff's Lot Split Application on the
basis that the proposed division would change the character
of the neighborhood due to the number of lots, density and
lot size. The Board voted 7-0 in favor of denying the
Application. This lawsuit followed wherein plaintiff asserts
the Board denied plaintiff its right to substantive due
process in violation of the Constitution and 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff seeks an injunction ordering the Township to
approve its Lot Split Application to cure the alleged
violation of their substantive due process rights. Plaintiff
also seeks a reasonable attorney fee pursuant to 42 USC
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render
summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." See Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530,
532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the
court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of
the fair and efficient administration of justice. The
procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986);
see also Cox v. Kentucky Dept. of Transp., 53 F.3d
146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995).
standard for determining whether summary judgment is
appropriate is "'whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or
whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law.'" Amway Distributors Benefits
Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th
Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The evidence and all reasonable
inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986);
Redding, 241 F.3d at 532 (6th Cir. 2001).
"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in
original); see also National Satellite Sports, Inc. v.
Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).
movant establishes by use of the material specified in Rule
56(c) that there is no genuine issue of material fact and
that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the
opposing party must come forward with "specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S.
253, 270 (1968); see also McLean v. 988011 Ontario,
Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Mere
allegations or denials in the non-movant's pleadings will
not meet this burden, nor will a mere scintilla of evidence
supporting the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248, 252. Rather, there must be evidence on which a jury
could reasonably find for the non-movant. McLean,
224 F.3d at 800 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
substantive due process claim based on a local land-use
decision requires the plaintiff to show “that (1) a
constitutionally protected property or liberty interest
exists, and (2) the constitutionally protected interest has
been deprived through arbitrary and capricious action.”
EJS Props., LLC v. City of Toledo, 698 F.3d 845, 855
(6th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). A party cannot possess a
property interest in the receipt of a benefit when the state
or local body's decision to award or withhold that
benefit is “wholly discretionary.” Id.
at 856 (citation omitted). On the other hand, where a local
body has no discretion to deny the requested land use if the
application satisfies certain minimum, mandatory
requirements, then the applicant has a “legitimate
claim of entitlement” or a “justifiable
expectation” in the approval of its plan, which gives
rise to a constitutionally protected property interest.
Silver v. Franklin Twp. Bd. of Zoning Appeals, 966
F.2d 1031, 1036 (6th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).
case requires interpretation of various sections of the Land
Division Act, as well as the Bloomfield Twp. Lot Split
Ordinance. The proper construction of a statute is a question
of law for the court to decide, with the court's goal
being to give effect to the legislature's intent. See
Lamie v United States Tr., 540 U.S. 526, 534 (2004). In
“cases involving statutory interpretation, we look
first to the language of the statute itself.”
Hughey v. United States, 495 U.S. 411, 415 (1990)
(citation omitted); United States v. Kumar, 750 F.3d
563, 568-69 (6th Cir. 2014). Specific provisions take
precedence over more general ones. Id., Green v.
Bock Laundry Mach. Co., 490 U.S. 504, 524 (1989).
Interpretations which yield internal inconsistencies or
render some portion of the text superfluous are to be
avoided. See Lake Cumberland Trust, Inc. v. EPA, 954
F.2d 1218, 1222 (6th Cir. 1992). Michigan law on statutory
interpretation abides by the same principles. See Calvert
Bail Bond Agency, LLC v. St. Clair Co., 314 Mich.App.
548, 550-51 (2016).
263 of the Land Division Act (“Act”) expressly
applies to platted subdivisions and is the appropriate
starting point for analysis in this case. MCL 560.263. This
section specifically states that a parcel in a platted
subdivision shall not be “further partitioned or