Amicus Brief

Village of Rothbury v Double JJ Resort Ranch, Inc

Case Year: 2003
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: Right to Farm Act (RTFA), generally accepted agricultural and management practices (GAAMPS), zoning ordinance, residentail uses
Amicus Counsel:

Eric D. Williams (P33359) | 524 North State Street | Big Rapids MI 49307 | 231-796-8945


Double JJ’s request to interpret and apply the RTFA to its corn maze and horse riding stables is squarely before the Court of Appeals. That request should be denied because the stipulated facts did not establish that Double JJ was operating a farm
operation in conformity with generally accepted agricultural and management practices, MCL 286.473(1), or prior to a change in land use or occupancy in a manner that was not a nuisance before that change, MCL 286.473(2). In addition, the trial court misconstrued the RTF A as preempting all municipal zoning authority over agricultural land uses, rather than preempting only those ordinances that purport to extend or
revise the RTFA, or conflict with a provision of the RTF A, or conflict with generally accepted agricultural and management practices developed under this act. Finally, the trial court correctly determined that Double JJ’s corn maze and horse riding stables were not protected activities under the RTFA and the specific stipulated facts of this case. The trial court’s decision should be affirmed, with clarification by the Court of
Appeals that the RTF A preemption of local zoning must be based on a specific conflict with a provision of the RTF A or a generally accepted agricultural management practice
developed under the act, neither one of which was established in this case.


Court of Appeals:
Defendant appeals as of right from the trial court’s declaratory judgment; the court found that two of defendant’s activities were not protected from local zoning laws by the Michigan Right to Farm Act (RTFA), MCL 286.471 et seq. This case arose when plaintiff sued to enjoin defendant from conducting agricultural and commercial activities on residentially zoned land located within the village limits. The trial court determined that while defendant’s pumpkin patch and the corn harvested to feed defendant’s horses were exempt from zoning because they complied with generally accepted agricultural management practices (GAAMPs), the use of the corn field as a maze available to the public and the rental of horses for recreational riding were not protected. We reverse.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Double JJ Ranch owns about 75 acres of land located within the Village of Rothbury which is zoned R-1 Residential. The properties were not used for agricultural purposes when the Double JJ Ranch purchased the properties.

Case Number: 2002-14
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