Amicus Brief

Haring, Selma, and Clam Lake Twps v City of Cadillac at MSC

Case Year: 2011
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: sewage treatment, wastewater collection, service provision
Amicus Counsel:

Jeffrey V.H. Sluggett (P39440) | Crystal L. Morgan (P68837) | Law Weathers | 800 Bridgewater Place | 333 Bridge Street NW |
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504-5320 | 616-459-1171


The City is not required to “rubber-stamp” connections to its wastewater treatment facility. The City has the right to exercise its reasonable discretion in deciding whether to approve or disapprove connections to its system—a system for which it is legally responsible. To the extent the City has determined to rely on disapproving connections without annexation or a 425 agreement, this Court should conclude—for the reasons discussed above—that the City is legally entitled to make such a determination and that doing so is not arbitrary or unreasonable. The Townships’ policy arguments do not demand a different result.The Townships bargained for the provision of wastewater treatment services until May 12, 2017. Thus, if the City provides wastewater treatment services to the Townships until May 12, 2017, the Townships will have received the benefit of their bargains. The Townships were aware of the expiration date of the contracts when they were executed. The law presumes that a party who has executed a contract has read the contract. The City is not required to renew the contracts upon their expiration. And the nonrenewal of the contracts terminates the legal relationship between the City and the Townships. Failure to enforce the contracts as written will have a chilling effect on intergovernmental agreements and collaborative efforts throughout the state.


On order of the Court, leave to appeal having been granted and the briefs and oral arguments of the parties having been considered by the Court, we AFFIRM the October 12, 2010 judgment of the Court of Appeals. Although courts are not bound by the parties’ determination that a case is ripe, we agree with the parties that considering all of the circumstances this case is ripe for adjudication and that the claims are not contingent or hypothetical.
The grant of leave to appeal also asked the parties to address whether Washtenaw County Health Dep’t v T&M Chevrolet, Inc, 406 Mich 518 (1979), which held that when “an available sewer line crosses municipal boundaries, the municipality operating the sewer system may not condition connection on annexation of the properties involved when connection means abatement of a public health hazard[,]” id. at 525-526, was correctly decided and, if so, whether it requires the defendant to continue providing sewage transportation and treatment services to the plaintiff townships. However, because there is no “public health hazard” requiring abatement presented in this case, the issue is not directly before the Court at this time and need not be decided.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

In 1977 and 1980, the Wexford County Board of Public Works, acting on behalf of the plaintiffs into contracts regarding waste water collection and treatment. The contracts were
prompted by the enactment of the Clean Water Act and the subsequent enforcement through the EPA, and availability of Federal grant monies for implementation of facilities improvements to implement that legislation. The
prerequisite to obtaining those funds required that there be a facilities plan that addressed regional analysis and planning for compliance. The Wexford County Board of Public Works and defendant to this action developed a facilities plan and amended the facilities plan prior to the implementation of the contracts referred to above. The facilities plan by its terms attempted to determine the waste water collection system
needs for the next 20 year period. The facilities plan was used as the foundation that permitted the defendant to obtain grant funding to increase its waste water treatment facilities as well as to improve waste water collection facilities. Plaintiffs entered into contracts to implement a portion of the waste water collection and treatment within their jurisdictions consistent with the facilities plan as amended not including all areas
contemplated by the plan. Plaintiffs and the defendant have
attempted to negotiate extensions of their agreements regarding the provision of waste water treatment and collection. The defendant has provided written notice to the
plaintiffs that it is the intention of the defendant to discontinue the provision of the waste water treatment and collection after May 12, 2017. This current litigation has resulted.

Case Number: 2009-05-1
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