Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 7, 2014

Fed Dist. Court in Michigan Finds Township Not in Violation of Equal Protection Law by Approving Application for Pole Sign but not Application for Billboard

Plaintiff, M&S Signs (M&S) alleged, inter alia, that Charter Township of Au Sable (Township) violated its equal protection rights when the Township granted AmericInn’s (AI) application for a pole sign and denied their applications for a billboard. The Township moved for summary judgment on the issue, as they contend M&S failed to show that there was a genuine dispute as to any material fact. In order for a sign or billboard to be placed in Oscoda, Michigan, the application must comply with the Au Sable Sign Ordinance. The ordinance provides a way to regulate signs and billboards based on their size and location, among other criteria. Additionally, the ordinance provides that applicants need approval from the Zoning Administrator prior to any posting.

The three M&S applications were all denied in accordance with the Sign Ordinance. However, the Township approved AI’s application for the same commercial zone. M&S claimed that their equal protection rights were violated, as another business was able to procure approval for a sign and they were not. AI did not apply for a billboard, as M&S contended, but rather applied for a pole sign. A pole sign is permitted in the commercial zone where M&S sought to have their billboard. Since AI applied for a pole sign and not a billboard, the application was properly approved. Therefore, the Township’s motion for summary judgment was granted.

M&S Signs, LLC v. Charter Tp. of Au Sable, 2014 WL 2558213 (ED MI 6/6/2014).

The opinion can be accessed at:,+LLC+v.+Charter+Twp.+of+Au+Sable&hl=en&as_sdt=2006&as_vis=1

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