Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 26, 2014

Fed. Dist. Court in MI Finds Neighbor Lacked Standing to Enforce Consent Judgment or Zoning Ordinance Since She was Not a Party to Either

Elissa Fay Smith owned residential property in the City of Keego Harbor. Her property adjoined a landscaping business owned by defendants Holly Hills Development, LLC, Shecter Landscaping, Inc., and Kenneth Shecter. On December 14, 2004, the Oakland County Circuit Court entered a Consent Judgement against the defendants, which restricted the Shecters in their use of the property and required them to conform to the City’s zoning ordinance. The Oakland County Circuit Court granted Smith’s voluntary dismissal as to her claims against the Shecter Defendants. The only remaining claim is Count I against the City of Keego Harbor (the City), claiming deprivation of Smith’s rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The City raised four primary arguments in favor of dismissal: (1) that Smith did not have standing to enforce the Consent Judgment against the Shecters, or to compel the City to enforce its zoning ordinance; (2) that Smith’s claims were not ripe for adjudication because she has not received a final decision from the City; (3) that Smith had no constitutionally protected property interest in the City’s actions with respect to the Shecters; and (4) that Smith failed to state a claim under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments or under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The court agreed that because Smith was not a party to the Consent Agreement, she lacked standing to enforce it. Smith’s claim to compel the City to enforce its zoning ordinance public rights actions similarly failed for lack of standing, since the enforcement of zoning ordinances must be brought by public officials vested with such responsibility. Because Smith lacked standing to enforce either the Consent Judgment or the zoning ordinance, the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under Article III. Accordingly, the City’s motion to dismiss was granted.

Smith v City of Keego Harbor, 2014 WL 6632163 (ED MI 11/21/2014)

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