Property Keyed to Saxer
Richardson v. Township of Brady
Robert T. Richardson (Plaintiff) is the owner of 194 acres of land in the Township of Brady (Defendant). Defendant has in place a local zoning ordinance, enacted in 1987, that limits the number of units of livestock on property based on the animals’ odor-producing qualities. In January 1997, Plaintiff sought to establish a nursery-swine facility on his property, on which he would raise young swine under fifty-five pounds. Under the terms of the ordinance, swine was defined as having a unit of measure of 1.00, regardless of its size. Based on this definition, Plaintiff was limited to raising 1,999 pigs. However, Plaintiff believed his operation would need to raise at least 4,200 pigs to remain economically viable. He therefore sought to obtain an interpretation or variance from the Township Zoning Board of Appeals redefining the unit of measure for swine under fifty-five pounds to .50. The township supervisor accordingly proposed amendments for the animal-unit definition of swine. However, this amendment failed before the Brady Township Planning Commission. On February 16, 1998, Plaintiff requested that the Zoning Board of Appeals provide an interpretation in regards to the animal-unit definition of nursery swine. The attorney for the Township Board responded, stating that the Zoning Board of Appeals lacked the jurisdiction to amend the text of the ordinance. Plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court for the County of Kalamazoo, arguing that the ordinance violated his substantive and procedural due process rights. The case was removed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims.
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