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A Better Partnership
March 25, 2009

COA Opinion: Non-conforming use is analyzed at the time a zoning ordinance is changed

Yesterday, in Laketon Township v. Advanse, Inc., Case No. 276986, the Michigan Court of Appeals reaffirmed that the time for determining whether a nonconforming use vests in a property owner is the date the relevant zoning ordinance was enacted or amended. Defendant purchased a property known as Sunset Beach Cottages in Laketon Township and began short-term rentals of a house that the previous owners had used as their permanent residence. At the time of purchase, the Township zoning ordinance did not prohibit the new use. In response to complaints about short-term rentals at other properties, the Township amended its ordinance to bar that use. The trial court enjoined Defendant, ruling that Defendant could not expand the use made by the prior owner. The Court reversed, stating that "Michigan case law and MCL 125.3208 both emphasize that the enactment date of the ordinance 'is the critical point in determining when a nonconforming use vests.'" Disclaimer: WNJ represented the prevailing appellant in this matter.

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