Programs & Services

Legal Defense Fund Top 25: Case 9

Adams Outdoor Advertising v City of Holland

463 Mich 675 (2001)

Issue: Authority to regulate billboards

Adams Outdoor Advertising applied for a permit to construct a new billboard on a right of way in Holland. The city rejected the application saying that billboards were not permitted under two new sections of its zoning ordinance. Adams sued the city challenging the provisions as invalid under the Home Rule City Act (HRCA) and the City and Village Zoning Act (CVZA).

The first section of Holland’s ordinance provides that “billboards and advertising signs are not permitted.” The second states that “nonconforming signs, billboards or advertising signs may not be expanded, enlarged, or extended; however, said signs may be maintained and repaired so as to continue the useful life of the signs.” The circuit court found that the provisions violated both the HRCA and the CVZA. Section 4i(f) of the HRCA indicates that a city may provide in its charter for the “licensing, regulating, restricting, and limiting the number and locations of billboards within the city.” Section 4i(c) authorizes a city to provide zoning powers in its charter. Section 12 of the CVZA prohibits exclusionary zoning. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the circuit court and found in favor of Holland.

Why did the LDF get involved?
At issue was the extent to which a city may exclude new billboards within its jurisdiction.What action did the LDF take?
Filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court

What was the outcome?
The Michigan Supreme Court reasoned that because the ordinance provisions did not completely ban billboards, they were not invalid under the CVZA. The Court found that the sections were valid as enacted under the CVZA. The Court did not address the claim under the HRCA. As a result, the city’s ordinance was upheld.

Who prepared the amicus brief?
Gerald A. Fisher (Secrest, Wardle, Lynch, Hampton, Truex and Morley)
Thomas R. Schultz (Secrest, Wardle, Lynch, Hampton, Truex and Morley)


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