Amicus Brief

Adams Outdoor Advertising v City of Holland COA

Case Year: 1998
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: City and Village Zoning Enabling Act, zoning, ordinance, exclusionary zoning, billboard, Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), Home Rule City Act (HRCA)
Amicus Counsel:

Gerald A. Fisher | Thomas R. Schultz | Secrest, Wardle, Lynch, Hampton, Truex and Morley | 30903 Northwestern Highway | Farmington Hills, MI 48333 | 248-851-9500

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Townships Association (MTA)


Holland’s ordinance is a zoning ordinance, not a general police powers ordinance enacted under the Home Rule
City Act. The entire context of Michigan zoning law dictates that the city’s zoning ordinance is not enabled by the Home Rule City Act. In addition, “exclusionary zoning” is intended to
address the situation in which the zoning power is used not as a land use planning technique, but as a socioeconomic device by which certain individuals, acting as community “gatekeepers,” to decide on the basis of social criteria who belongs in the community and who does not; it does not apply to billboards. Also, by its terms, the ordinance does not have the effect of “totally prohibiting” billboards. Existing billboards are not only allowed to continue, they may be maintained and repaired so as to continue their useful life.


The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the circuit court and found in favor of Holland.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Adams Outdoor Advertising applied for a permit to construct a new billboard on a right of way in the city of Holland. The city rejected the application saying that billboards were not permitted under two new sections of its zoning ordinance. Adams sued the city challenging the provisions as invalid under the Home Rule City Act and the City and Village Zoning Act.
The first section of Holland’s ordinance provides that “billboards and advertising signs are not permitted.” The second states that “nonconforming signs, billboards or advertising signs may not be expanded, enlarged, or extended; however, said signs may be maintained and repaired so as to
continue the useful life of the signs.”

Case Number: 1997-11-1
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