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Adams Outdoor Adver. v. E. Lansing, City of

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20010
Nos. No. 113674, 614 N.W.2d 634/(Mich., 07/26/2000)

The court holds that a municipal regulation prohibiting billboards on rooftops did not effect a taking of an outdoor advertiser's interest in its rooftop signs. The regulation, enacted in 1975, prohibited rooftop billboards after 1987. The advertiser renewed its leases for rooftop billboards with several building owners, but the town denied the advertiser's request for a variance from the rooftop billboard prohibition. The court first holds that the advertiser's leasehold interest did not include the right to display signs after 1987, and, thus, it did not possess the interest allegedly taken by the regulation. As a lessee, the advertiser's property interests are limited to the rights possessed by the building owners as lessors. The lessors never had an absolute right to display signs on rooftops. They had no right to prevent the imposition of regulations that represented a reasonable exercise of the police power and that did not effect a taking. Thus, they could not convey to the advertiser an absolute right to display signs on the leased rooftops because they never possessed such a right in the first place. The court next holds that the regulation would not effect a taking under the state balancing test. The regulation is a reasonable police power regulation, and any economic effect would be limited because the rooftop is only a small portion of the lessors' property. Further, any interference with the lessors property interest would be limited because they never had an absolute right to display signs on the rooftops. The court then holds that the advertiser had no reasonable expectation that it could maintain the rooftop signs because it was aware of the sign code prior to renewing the leases and could have had no reasonable expectation that it could maintain the signs at the rooftop locations after the date designated in the code.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (10 pp., ELR Order No. L-250).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Michael H. Perry
Fraser, Trebilcock, Davis & Foster
1000 Michigan National Tower
Lansing MI 48933
(517) 482-5800

Counsel for Defendant
Thomas M. Hitch
McGinty, Jakubiak, Frankland & Hitch
601 Abbott Rd., E. Lansing MI 48823
(517) 351-0280