Amicus Brief

International Outdoor, Inc. v City of Livonia

Case Year: 2015
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: billboards, off-premise billboards, sign ordinance, Home Rule City Act (HRCA), Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (MZEA), common law
Amicus Counsel:

Andrew J. Mulder | Vincent L. Duckworth | Cunningham Dalman, P.C. | 321 Settlers Road | Holland, MI 49422-1767 | 616-392-1821 | [email protected] | [email protected]

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Municipal League (MML);
Michigan Townships Association (MTA);
Public Corporation Law Section of the
State Bar of Michigan (PCLS);
Scenic America;
Scenic Michigan


The Home Rule City Act provides for “licensing, regulating, restricting, and limiting the number of locations of
billboards within the city,” and the courts have stated that home rule cities have broad powers with respect to billboards. Exclusionary zoning stems from equal protection and constitutional law, applied to race or social or economic status.
A Michigan court has never applied the concept of exclusionary zoning or MCL 125.3207 (or its predecessor MCL 125.592) to
billboards. The language of MCL 125.3207 is only designed to protect necessary uses within a municipality–it applies to
land uses where there is a “demonstrated need.” It does not contemplate billboards being protected under exclusionary zoning. The MZEA establishes the framework for a local
government to create a comprehensive zoning plan to promote the public health, safety, and welfare of the community. Any common law protections applicable to exclusionary zoning claims have been absorbed by statutory provisions of the MZEA. The challenged ordinances here do allow billboards,
provided they were in existence at the time the restriction was enacted or on-site signs.


Plaintiff, International Outdoor, Inc., is in the business of selling advertising space on billboards. Defendant, the city of Livonia, denied plaintiff’s permit application to erect a billboard in defendant’s city limits, and defendant’s zoning board of appeals denied plaintiff’s request for a variance from the city’s zoning ordinance provisions banning new billboards.
Subsequently, plaintiff filed this action in the Wayne Circuit Court, challenging defendant’s ordinance on the basis that (1) it resulted in impermissible exclusionary zoning under both the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (“ZEA”), MCL 125.3101 et seq., and the common law, and (2) it violated plaintiff’s right to equal protection under the law. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary disposition. Plaintiff appeals as of right. We affirm.
Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal (4/4/2017)

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

International Outdoor applied to the City of Livonia for a permit to erect a digital billboard at a site adjacent to I-96. The city denied the request pursuant to its 1952 ordinance banning billboards. International Outdoor applied for a variance and was denied.

Case Number: 2015-04
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