Amicus Brief

Sandstone Associates v City of Novi

Case Year: 2000
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: special assessment, contract
Amicus Counsel:

Jerold Lax | Bodman, Longley & Dahling LLP | 110 Miller Ave, Suite 300 | Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | 734-761-3780


Assuming the trial court had jurisdiction over this Inatter, and
even assuming contractual principles could appropriately be applied in this case to require that the Decker Road project be completed “within a reasonable time,” the trial court erred in
determining that the city had not proceeded in a timely fashion. The reasons are twofold: inadequate evidence supported the two-year period and, more ilnportant, the trial court assessed reasonableness solely from the developer’s standpoint and accorded inadequate weight to the city’s justification for completing the project at a later date. If the city concluded that completion of the Decker project should be tied to the subsequent Novi Road project to facilitate the
construction and financing of both projects, this would have been an entirely appropriate judgment for the city to make. The city’s engineers indicate that tying the completion of the Decker project to the Novi Road project would both guard against potential damage to the city’s water system and would
eliminate the expense of having to build the Decker-Novi interchange once and then having to tear it up and build it again at the time of the completion of the Novi Road project.
The trial court concluded that Novi violated a special assessment agreement, a planned unit development agreement, had unlawfully taken Appellee’s property,
and violated Appellee’s substantive due process rights. The court’s description of its damage formula is this: “Because the measure of damages for all of the prevailing claims together cover the complete loss of Plaintiffs development, Plaintiff will be compensated in an amount equal to the projected value of the development had it proceeded unhindered.” The failure of the trial court to discuss the measure of damages applicable to each of Sandstone’s claims is in itself an appropriate ground for reversal under MCR 2.517(A)(1), which requires that a trial court “state separately its conclusions of law;” if the Court of Appeals were to determine that the trial court erred in sustaining one or more of Appellee’s claims, the trial court would have provided no coherent basis for assessing the correctness of its “seamlessly interwoven” damage
award. None of appellee’s contract claims would sustain an award based on the presumed value of appellee’s completed
development. MCLA 205.372, MSA 7.650(32) specifically empowers the Tax Tribunal to refund taxes improperly imposed, but no power is specifically granted to award other monetary relief.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No
Case Number: 1998-16
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