Land Use Restrictions, Part 1: The Legacy Of The Euclid Case

Commercial real estate litigation can have many causes.

Sometimes the issue is construction defects. At other times, the crux of the matter revolves around allegations of fraud or misrepresentation.

There are many other possible triggers for real estate litigation as well. And one of those is disputes involving zoning or other land-use restrictions.

In this two-part post, we will discuss one such dispute that is making news in Michigan.

The tension between government's right to regulate and property owners' right to use property has been around for a long time. But government's authority to enforce reasonable zoning regulations has been recognized in the law since the 1920s.

The well-known Supreme Court case that established this principle was Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. The Court held in the Euclid case that a city's police power allowed it to impose restrictions on the height of buildings and the types of uses permitted in certain areas.

The setting for the case was a Cleveland suburb. And the Supreme Court's upholding of the zoning ordinance in question provided important support for other local governments in creating their own ordinances.

But what do reasonable land-use restrictions consist of when farm animals are involved?

Michigan is currently grappling with this question. At issue is the application of a state law - the Right to Farm Act - to local ordinances that could restrict animal operations.

The state commission that administers the Right to Farm Act has voted to makes changes that will affect even the smallest livestock operations. We will discuss this further in part two of this post.

Source: M-live, "Change in rules for Michigan farm animals creates confusion for some farmers, satisfaction for others," Rosemary Parker, April 29, 2014

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