Amicus Brief

James Azzar v City of Grand Rapids and Bernard Schaefer and Robert Kruis

Case Year: 2006
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: Stille-DeRossett-Hale Single State Construction Code Act, property maintenance, building maintenance, pre-emption, ordinance
Amicus Counsel:

Dennis E. McGinty (P 17407) | Thomas M. Yeadon (P38237) |
McGinty, Hitch, Housefield, Person, Yeadon & Anderson, P .C. |
601 Abbott Road | East Lansing, MI 48823 | 517-351-0280

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Townships Association (MTA)


When property maintenance regulations and construction regulations are properly distinguished, as the legislatures and courts have historically done, it is clear that there was never an
expressed or implied intent by the legislature to preempt local regulation of the maintenance of property and structures. Rather, the state legislature has properly left that area of regulation to be addressed by local authorities. Property maintenance concerns are, by their nature, local issues and
there is neither the need nor demand for statewide regulation of this subject matter. There is no express preemption of the field of property maintenance regulations. With respect to the issue of whether state law expressly provides that the state’s authority is exclusive, in the context of property maintenance provisions, the legislature has expressly provided that local ordinances are not preempted. There is not a pervasive state regulatory scheme that would support a finding of preemption.
The adoption of the International Building Code and the delegated authority to the director
to make amendments, additions, or deletions as the director determines appropriate to establish a Michigan-specific version ofthat Code does not operate as an adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) simply because it is referenced in the Building Code. To the contrary, the IPMC was not included in the list of codes that would constitute the State Construction Code.
The existing Housing Law of Michigan are the only statewide property maintenance provisions in effect and these were not repealed explicitly or implicitly by the adoption of the State Construction Code. To the contrary, code amendments to the Housing Law of Michigan after the adoption ofthe State Construction Code evidence a clear legislative intent that the IPMC is not the state law with regard to property maintenance regulations. As such, there is no preemption of local property maintenance regulations by adoption of the Stille-DeRossett-Hale Single State Construction Code Act.


The Michigan Supreme Court initially granted leave to appeal in 2006. However, after briefing and oral argument, the Michigan Supreme Court vacated its earlier order and denied leave to appeal the Court of Appeals’ decision in 2007. The Court let stand the Court of Appeals’ favorable decision which held that the Act and the Code did not preempt the Grand Rapids Building Maintenance Code.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? Yes

The city of Grand Rapids cited Azzar for violating its local Building Maintenance Code. Azzar’s subsequent prosecution for Building Maintenance Code violations resulted in an acquittal as Azzar had corrected the violations. Nonetheless, Azzar asserted that the Stille-DeRossett-Hale Single State
Construction Code Act and the State Construction Code specifically preempted the Grand Rapids Building Maintenance Code. In a separate civil action filed by Azzar, the circuit court found that the Grand Rapids Building Maintenance Code was
not preempted by state law. The Michigan Court of Appeals also specifically found that the state law did not preempt the local Building Maintenance Code.

Case Number: 2005-10
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