On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in a long-running lawsuit pitting the city of Brighton against the owners of two vacant houses.
The city has an ordinance, Brighton Code of Ordinance § 18-59, allowing it to tear down dilapidated buildings if the buildings are deemed unsafe and the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the building. The owners of the vacant houses sued, calling the ordinance unconstitutional.
From the opinion:
We hold that BCO § 18-59 does not constitute an unconstitutional deprivation of substantive due process because the ordinance’s unreasonable-to-repair presumption is reasonably related to the city of Brighton’s legitimate interest in promoting the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. Furthermore, the ordinance is not an arbitrary and unreasonable restriction on a property owner’s use of his or her property because there are circumstances under which the presumption may be overcome and repairs permitted.
We likewise hold that the city of Brighton’s existing demolition procedures provide property owners, including plaintiffs, with procedural due process. Contrary to plaintiffs’ argument, the prescribed procedures are not faulty for failing to include an automatic repair option, which is, in essence, plaintiffs’ substantive due process argument recast in procedural due process terms. For purposes of this facial challenge, it is sufficient that aggrieved parties are provided the right to appeal an adverse decision to the city council as well as the right to subsequent judicial review. For the facial challenge to succeed, plaintiffs must show that no aggrieved property owners can meaningfully exercise their right to review or that such review is not conducted impartially. Because they have not done so, plaintiffs have failed to establish that BCO § 18-59, on its face, violates their procedural due process rights.
Posted by Samantha Meinke