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Deruiter v. Township of Byron

Court of Appeals of Michigan

July 17, 2018

CHRISTIE DERUITER, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant-Appellee,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF BYRON, Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff-Appellant, and MICHIGAN TOWNSHIPS ASSOCIATION and MICHIGAN MUNICIPAL LEAGUE, Amici Curiae.

          Kent Circuit Court LC No. 16-004195-CZ

          Before: Hoekstra, P.J., and Murphy and Markey, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         Defendant appeals by right the trial court's order granting plaintiff summary disposition and declaring that defendant's ordinance conflicted with the provisions of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, MCL 333.26421 et seq. (MMMA); therefore, it was preempted. We affirm.

         Defendant adopted its zoning ordinance regulations for land development and use under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, MCL 125.3101 et seq. (MZEA). Use of property by a medical marijuana registered caregiver was permitted only under Byron Township Zoning Ordinance (Zoning Ordinance) §§ 3.2.G and H as a "home occupation." Defendant prohibited registered caregivers from the medical use of marijuana in a commercial property. Zoning Ordinance § 3.2.H.3, required medical marijuana caregivers to submit an application and pay a fee to obtain a township permit before engaging in any medical use of marijuana. Violation of the provisions of the ordinance could result in revocation of the permit, which would require the caregiver to cease all medical marijuana activity until defendant granted a new permit.

         Plaintiff, a registered qualified medical marijuana patient and a registered primary caregiver to qualifying patients grew medical marijuana in an enclosed, locked facility at a commercial location within the township. On March 22, 2016, the township supervisor sent plaintiff a letter advising that plaintiff's medical marijuana related activities constituted a zoning violation. He ordered plaintiff to cease and desist all medical marijuana activities under threat of an enforcement action by defendant. Not long after, plaintiff sued defendant for declaratory and injunctive relief on the ground that defendant threatened her exercise of her rights and privileges under the MMMA despite her compliance with the MMMA. Plaintiff alleged that defendant's ordinance prohibited what the MMMA permitted. Consequently, it directly conflicted with the MMMA and required that the trial court hold that the MMMA preempted the ordinance.

         Defendant countersued for enforcement of its ordinance and abatement of the nuisance. Defendant sought a declaratory judgment that its ordinance did not conflict with the MMMA.

         The parties each moved for summary disposition. Both parties asserted that the dispositive issue was whether the MMMA preempted defendant's home occupation ordinance. Plaintiff argued that the ordinance directly conflicted with the MMMA. Defendant asserted that preemption did not apply because its ordinance only restricted the location where MMMA compliant activities could occur and did not prohibit them altogether. The trial court held that the ordinance directly conflicted with the MMMA, so the MMMA preempted the ordinance. Defendant now appeals.

         "Whether a state statute preempts a local ordinance is a question of statutory interpretation and, therefore, a question of law that we review de novo." Ter Beek v City of Wyoming, 297 Mich.App. 446, 452; 823 N.W.2d 864 (2012) (Ter Beek I), aff'd 495 Mich. 1; 846 N.W.2d 531 (2014) (Ter Beek II). We also review de novo the trial court's decision to grant or deny a motion for summary disposition in an action for a declaratory judgment. Lansing Schools Ed Ass'n v Lansing Bd of Ed (On Remand), 293 Mich.App. 506, 512-513; 810 N.W.2d 95 (2011). We review for clear error any of the trial court's factual findings and review de novo the trial court's interpretation of the MMMA. State v McQueen, 293 Mich.App. 644, 653; 811 N.W.2d 513 (2011).

         Defendant argues that the trial court erred by holding that the MMMA preempted its home occupation ordinance because it merely regulated land use by restricting the location of medical use of marijuana while allowing patients and caregivers to fully exercise their rights and privileges. We disagree.

         "Under Const 1963, art 7, § 22, a Michigan municipality's power to adopt resolutions and ordinances relating to municipal concerns is 'subject to the constitution and law.'" People v Llewellyn, 401 Mich. 314, 321; 257 N.W.2d 902 (1977). "Michigan is strongly committed to the concept of home rule, and constitutional and statutory provisions which grant power to municipalities are to be liberally construed." Bivens v Grand Rapids, 443 Mich. 391, 400; 505 N.W.2d 239 (1993). Local governments may control and regulate matters of local concern so long as their regulations do not conflict with state law. City of Taylor v Detroit Edison Co, 475 Mich. 109, 117-118; 715 N.W.2d 28 (2006).

         The MZEA provides in relevant part:

A local unit of government may provide by zoning ordinance for the regulation of land development and . . . regulate the use of land and structures . . . to ensure that use of the land is situated in appropriate locations and . . . to ...

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