Amicus Brief

Adams Outdoor Advertising v City of Holland

Case Year: 2000
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: Home Rule Cities Act (HRCA), City and Village Zoning Act (CVZA), off-premises advertising billboards, zoning ordinance
Amicus Counsel:

Gerald A. Fisher | Thomas R. Schultz | Secrest, Wardle, Lynch, Hampton Truex and Morley | 30903 Northwestern Highway | Farmington Hills MI 48333-3040 | 248-851-9500

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Townships Association


The Court of Appeals’ opinion reaches the unremarkable conclusion that local governments may adopt and enforce ordinances regulating off-premises advertising billboards for purposes that are largely, though not entirely, aesthetic. The U.S. Supreme Court had already reached that conclusion as a matter of First Amendment law in Metromedia. Adams asked the Court of Appeals, and now it asks this Court, to find that certain state laws preclude the exercise of such authority despite the lack of constitutional implications. Adams’ arguments reflect a misunderstanding of the scope of Michigan’s exclusionary zoning statute and ignore the broad authority of local governments to legislate in the public interest.
The exclusionary zoning concept has no real application to a secondary or ancillary use of property for off-premises advertising. And even if it did, Adams’ challenge to Holland’s ordinance is puzzling, because the ordinance does not totally prohibit billboards, it merely “caps” the number and location at their historical status.Holland’s billboard regulations are generally authorized whether analyzed under the HRCA or the CVZA.The people of Holland, speaking through their elected local officials, have determined that they want protection from the visual pollution created by an excessive number of off-premises advertising billboards. Adams cannot identify any constitutional or statutory prohibition against the local self-regulation imposed by the Holland City Council, and the regulation must therefore stand.


Michigan Supreme Court:
We hold that §§ 39-348(g) and 39-350(b) are valid because
defendant enacted them as part of its zoning ordinance under
the CVZA. Hence, the HRCA’s provision authorizing cities to
regulate billboards in their charters, subsection 4i(f), need
not be considered. Also, whereas subsection 4i(c) provides to
a city the authority to exercise zoning powers, it is the
CVZA that furnishes the details of that exercise. It contains
specific restrictions on the city’s authority to zone. Here,
because plaintiff failed to establish that the sections in
question completely ban billboards, the sections are not
invalid under the provisions of the CVZA. Therefore, we
affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No
Case Number: 1997-11-2
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