By John A. Weiss, Dickinson Wright PLLC
In Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance v. Saugatuck Township, Case Nos. 160358-9 (decided July 22, 2022), the Michigan Supreme Court considered what status is necessary for purposes of appealing certain land use decisions to a zoning board of appeals and, subsequently, to the circuit court. The majority concluded that to qualify as “aggrieved” under the applicable statutes, a would-be appellant must satisfy three criteria: (1) the party must have participated in the challenged proceedings by taking a position on the contested proposal or decision, (2) the party must claim some protected interest or personal, pecuniary, or property right that will be or is likely to be affected by the challenged decision, and (3) the party must provide some evidence of special damages that is different in kind or more significant in degree than the effects on others in the local community. The practical effect of the majority’s decision is that the threshold for qualifying as “aggrieved” will be more permissive and property ownership is not a requirement.
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