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Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit, City of

Citation: 11 ELR 20778
No. No. 66294, 304 N.W.2d 455/19 ERC 1972/410 Mich. 616, (Mich., 03/13/1981)

The Michigan Supreme Court holds that a municipality's condemnation of private residential property for use as a privately-owned automobile assembly plant site serves a "public purpose" within the meaning of the Economic Development Corporations Act and that social and cultural environments which might be adversely affected by the construction are not matters within the purview of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act. Plaintiffs challenged a plan by the Detroit Economic Development Corporation and the City of Detroit to acquire, by condemnation if necessary, a large tract of land to be conveyed to General Motors Corporation as a site for the construction of the plant. The court holds that the use f eminent domain power in this case does not constitute a taking of private property for private use. The court notes that the Economic Development Corporations Act authorized municipalities to acquire property by condemnation in order to provide commercial sites and provides the means to transfer the roperty to private users if the transfer is for a public purpose. The prospect of preserving 6,000 jobs in the city and substantially increasing the city's tax base constitutes a public purpose as contemplated by the Act. The court also rules that the Michigan Environmental Protection Act does not protect social and cultural environments. The Act specifically provides for the protection of air, water, and natural resources, whose plain meaning does not encompass social and cultural environments. The dissent justices concur in the holding that the Michigan Environmental Protection Act does not protect social, cultural, and historical institutions but would find that the condemnation at issue goes beyond the scope of the power of eminent domain in that it takes private property for private use.

The full text of the opinion is available from ELR (27 pp. $4.00, ELR Order No. C-1249).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Ronald Reosti
Reosti & Papakian
925 Ford Bldg., Detroit MI 48226
(313) 962-2770

Counsel for Defendants Detroit Economic Dev. Corp.
Eric Lee Clay
Lewis, White, Clay & Graves
8th Floor, Fed. Savings Bldg., 409 Griswold St., Detroit MI 48226
(313) 961-2550

Counsel for Defendant City of Detroit
Sylvester Delaney, Deputy Corp. Counsel; Joseph N. Baltimore, Ass't Corp. Counsel
1010 City-Cty. Bldg., Detroit MI 48226
(313) 224-4552

Jason L. Honigman, William G. Christopher, Norman C. Ankers
Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn
2290 First Nat'l Bldg., Detroit MI 48226
(313) 962-6700

per curiam.