Amicus Brief

City of Bay City v Richard Brzezinski, Bay County Treasurer

Case Year: 2010
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: foreclosing governmental unit (FGU), public purpose
Amicus Counsel:

Steven D. Mann (P67785) | Don M. Schmidt (P20005) | Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. | 150 W. Jefferson Ave., Suite 2500 | Detroit, MI 48226 | 313-496-7509

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Townships Association (MTA)


Bay City city council, a duly elected local legislative body, made a finding (by unanimous vote) that the acquisition of four parcels of tax-reverted property would stimulate private investment through the redevelopment of those parcels and thus would constitute a public purpose. The council also found that improving and selling those parcels would constitute economic development efforts that would ensure a healthy and growing tax base for the city. This finding was entirely within its statutory powers and authority. Nevertheless, the county treasurer, with no statutory authority to do so, took it upon himself to review and override that decision. The circuit court concluded that the acquisition of two of the four parcels
was not a public purpose because the use the City planned to make of them was “too speculative.” There is no statutory or case law that authorizes a court to override a legislative body’s detennination of public purpose on the ground that the proposed use is “too speculative.” Because the local
legislative body had not yet acquired the properties, any and all plans for their use could be considered “too speculative.” As long as the public body has plans for the properties that it
intends to implement to promote a public purpose, there is no authority for the courts to review those plans to determine whether they are “too speculative” or not. The plain language of MCL 211. 78m clearly directs the Appellee to convey the property to the Appellant. The statute grants no discretion to Appellee, but mandates that the property be conveyed.


Plaintiff appeals as of right the trial court’s order denying its claim to declaratory and mandamus relief following a bench trial. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we reverse.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Starting in 2005, defendant, as the foreclosing governmental unit, began foreclosing on properties, but plaintiff did
not seek to purchase any foreclosed properties until 2008. In 2008, defendant foreclosed on 16 parcels within plaintiff’s limits. Plaintiff informed defendant that it wished to purchase four of the parcels and forwarded a check to defendant in the amount of the total of the minimum bids for the four parcels. Defendant determined that he was not obligated to sell the parcels to plaintiff unless he was satisfied that plaintiff would be returning the property to a position in which the property would generate tax revenue. Following defendant’s determination, officials of plaintiff and Bay County met to discuss the issue and come to an understanding, but they were
not able to reach an agreement. On August 22, 2009, plaintiff filed this action against defendant for declaratory and mandamus relief. Plaintiff sought a declaration that its stated public purpose for the parcels was valid and a writ of mandamus directing defendant to transfer title to the
parcels. In its complaint, plaintiff stated its public purpose was “to reduce the number of vacant tax reverted properties within [plaintiff]’s limits thereby minimizing the real and present dangers they present and to remove certain blighted conditions present on the subject properties” and that, through redevelopment of the properties, plaintiff “will ensure a
healthy and growing tax base.”

Case Number: 2009-08
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