Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 8, 2016

Fed. Dist. Court in MI Holding Takings Claim Not Ripe for Review

Plaintiffs William J. Peterson and Patricia Peterson operated a “small scale recycling business” at their home, which caused tension with City of Grand Rapids officials, Eric Jordan and Carolyn Forsythe, who were responsible for enforcing the City’s Zoning Code. Eventually, as a result of Plaintiffs’ recycling operation, the City issued a housing violation ticket. Plaintiffs state that the ticket was appealed to the Board of Housing Appeals, and a hearing was set for July 2012. Prior to the hearing, Defendants Jordan and Forsythe obtained a search warrant at Plaintiffs’ residence to verify the existence of alleged circumstances jeopardizing the public health and safety, and to abate the conditions. The warrant was executed when “a large number of armed police officers confronted and restrained plaintiffs…at their home” and “prevented them from protecting their property from collection in trucks and removal by Defendant City and its contractor, Pit Crew Company.” The property removed from Plaintiffs’ residence included a Ford truck, valuable scrap metal, and a set of drawers containing tools and other valuable property. Plaintiffs stated that some of the property that was seized was taken to the dump, while some of it was sold by Defendants, whom Plaintiffs believe converted the materials for personal use.

Defendants argued that the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs’ claims raised under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause because Plaintiffs failed to pursue a remedy in state court, and that the Court lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ exclusionary zoning claims because Plaintiffs did not seek rezoning or apply for a land use variance. Accordingly, the court held that Plaintiffs “deprived the township of any opportunity to consider whether its ordinance failed to accommodate a lawful use for which a demonstrated need existed,” and their claim, therefore, was not ripe for judicial review. This failure to seek an adequate state-court remedy, likewise led the court to hold that Plaintiff had not met his burden of proving that the court possessed subject matter jurisdiction over his just-compensation takings claim.

Peterson v City of Grand Rapids, 2016 WL 1604600 (WD MI 4/22/2016)

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