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One Court of Justice Blog

June 27, 2013

COA overrules county road commission and legislature to uphold township truck-route ordinance

The county cannot trump a township's reasonable control of county roads, even if the legislature authorizes it. So held the court of appeals in Oshtemo Charter Twp. v. Kalamazoo Cnty. Rd. Comm'n, striking down the Motor Vehicle Code as applied to a truck route ordinance in Oshtemo Charter Township. Until now, the Code authorized county road commissions to invalidate a local truck route ordinance if it diverted traffic across municipal borders. Under the court's recent opinion, however, the statute is unconstitutional as applied unless the ordinance is unreasonable.

Oshtemo Charter Township passed an ordinance that prohibits trucks from driving on certain county roads within its jursidiction. Subsequently, the legislature amended the statute to allow adjoining municipalities to challenge a local truck route ordinance before the county road commission and granted the commission authority to resolve the challenge if the townships fail to settle an issue. After Kalamazoo Township and Alamo Township challenged Oshtemo's truck route ordinance and failed to resolve the issue, the county road commission stepped in and invalidated Oshtemo's ordinance. Oshtemo sued, arguing that the legislature's amendment violated the constitutional provision granting townships reasonable control of their roads subject to state law.

The Court of Appeals agreed. The court held that the ordinance did not not contravene state law, specifically the new statutory amendment, MCL 257.726(3), because the text of the amendment only says the ordinance may or may not be invalidated. And it did not conflict with any rule because the road commission was not authorized to promulgate rules. Since Oshtemo had a right of "reasonable" control, and no one including the road commission argued the ordinance was unreasonable, the court held that the statute unconstitutional as applied to Osthemo's ordinance, and reversed the trial court's decision.

The court also questioned whether the amendment was a proper delegation of legislative authority, but declined to reach that issue.

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