Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 25, 2020

Fed. Dist. Court in MI Finds Property Owner Could Not Plausibly Allege a Constitutionally Protected Property Interest Rezoning Request Case

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Eureka Building, Inc. filed two applications to rezone a vacant 1.2-acre parcel in the City of Troy from “One Family Residential” to “One Family Attached Residential” for a townhouse development project. These applications would allow Eureka to build ten townhouses on the parcel instead of the then maximum of four. Eureka’s first application was a “conditional” rezoning application, which offered certain voluntary conditions as part of the request. The second application was a “straight” or “traditional” rezoning application, which did not attach any conditions beyond simple rezoning. The Troy City Council denied both applications, and Eureka filed this action against the City.

 At the outset, the court noted that Eureka could not plausibly allege that it had any property interest in rezoning approval because Michigan law and the Troy Zoning Ordinance granted total discretion to the City Council to approve or reject a rezoning request. As such, Eureka could not plausibly allege a constitutionally protected property or liberty interest to state the first element of a substantive due process claim.

The court further found that even if the law permitted Eureka to allege a freestanding claim without a constitutionally protected property interest, Eureka’s complaint did not allege any conduct by the Troy City Council that would plausibly “shock the conscience.” Moreover, undisputed public records prevented Eureka from plausibly alleging that the Troy City Council’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. These undisputed public records indicated that Troy City Council members denied both of Eureka’s rezoning applications for a variety of reasons based on public health, safety, and welfare, consistent with their authority under the city zoning ordinance. Accordingly, the court granted the City of Troy’s motion to dismiss.

 Eureka Building, Inc v City of Troy, 2020 WL 6887373 (ED MI 11/24/2020)

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