Programs & Services

Legal Defense Fund Top 25: Case 12

Local Control
Azzar v City of Grand Rapids

2005 WL 2327076

Issue: Local property maintenance code

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.

Why did the LDF get involved?
Despite conflicting information provided by the state construction code office, many municipalities had taken the position, based on a reading of the Home Rule City Act and the state constitution, that the Act and the Code did not preclude enforcement of local building maintenance codes. The LDF filed an amicus brief to buttress the home rule arguments made by Grand Rapids and also to put to rest the conflicting information being generated by the state construction code office.

What action did the LDF take?
Filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court

What was the outcome?
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.

Who prepared the amicus brief?
Dennis E. McGinty (McGinty, Hitch, Housefield, Person, Yeadon and Anderson,

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