This article suggests that the Michigan legislature should amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act in order to explicitly allow state and local government to amortize nonconforming property uses under limited circumstances. While the current prohibition on amortization protects individual rights and is thus laudable as a liberty-friendly law, it goes too far by categorically refusing to give any account for the public interest.
A revised statute allowing amortization, but only when the government satisfies a substantial burden to demonstrate its “reasonableness,” including a showing that the property to be amortized can be put to reasonable alternate use, would properly recognize important (albeit competing) individual and collective interests. The article concludes, moreover, after examining the prohibition’s statutory history and Michigan Supreme Court precedent, that the Michigan Court would have strong basis to uphold such a statutory revision.
Michael A. Lawrence, A Proposal to Amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to Allow Amortization of Nonconforming Uses, 1998 Det. C.L. Rev. 653 (1998).