Amicus Brief

City of Lake Angelus v Michigan Aeronautics Commission, MDOT, and Director of MDOT

Case Year: 2002
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: Michigan Constitution, Home Rule City Act (HRCA), local control, ordinance, seaplane landing areas
Amicus Counsel:

Rosalind Rochkind (P23504) | David M. Shafer | Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. | 1000 Woodbridge Street | Detroit, MI 48207-3108 | 313-446-5522 | [email protected]

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Townships Association (MTA)


Local units of government in Michigan have broad and extensive powers under the Michigan Constitution and Michigan statutes to adopt ordinances relating to the use of land and water within their geographical boundaries. No such power is similarly conferred on state agencies in general or the
aeronautics commission in particular. The enabling statute provides the exclusive authority for the aeronautics commission to approve the “operation” of airports and landing fields “so as to assure a uniformity in regulations covering aeronautics.” MCL 259.51(1). The power to unilaterally determine the location of such airports and landing fields, however, is not
mentioned. Nor is there any mention of any ability to ignore, override, or otherwise intrude upon the valid exercise of the powers of local units of government to pass ordinances affecting the use of the lands and waters within their own boundaries–muchless there being any mention that the commission is at liberty to require local units of
government to obtain the commission’s pre-approval before being able to enforce their own zoning and other ordinances within their own boundaries!A panel of this Court (in an unpublished opinion) has specifically held that a local unit of government remains fully able to pass ordinances concerning the determination of the locations of airports and landing areas
within its boundaries. Any other conclusion would run directly contrary to the plain language of the aeronautics commission’s enabling statute and would improperly (in violation of numerous statutes and the state constitution) deprive local units of government of their right to self-determination.


This is an action for a declaratory judgment challenging the validity of an administrative rule promulgated by defendant, Michigan Aeronautics Commission.
The Oakland Circuit Court granted summary disposition for plaintiff, city of Lake Angelus, concluding that the statute establishing the authority of the Aeronautics Commission, did not authorize the commission to override an ordinance adopted by the city. We affirm.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Robert Gustafson, who owns waterfront property on the inland lake of Lake Angelus in Oakland County, chose to land a rented seaplane on that inland lake in direct violation of two city ordinances on August 9, 1991. His wife, Alice, is a member and sometime chairperson of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission and the Seaplane Pilots Association.

Case Number: 2001-13
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