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REAL ESTATE 71: The court held that defendant was violating the township zoning ordinance by operating a tourist home and thus, plaintiff were entitled to summary disposition of their nuisance per se claim.


Plaintiffs’ suit primarily alleges that defendant is conducting rental activity on its property in violation of the Manchester Township Zoning Ordinance (MTZO). Plaintiffs requested an order enjoining defendant from operating a resort on its property. In October 2018, plaintiffs moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10) (no genuine issue of material fact) on their claim of nuisance per se. After a second motion hearing, the trial court again took the motion under advisement, and later entered an order denying plaintiffs’ motion for summary disposition and granting summary disposition to defendant on plaintiffs’ claim of nuisance per se. The order provided in pertinent part: The Court finds that the rental of the said dwelling from time to time, for determinable periods of time, to one [1] single family, whether it is or not the same or a different family, is a permitted use under said Ordinance because that Ordinance does not require occupancy by a family for any stated or limited period of time. Therefore, the rental to different families from time to time is not prohibited by said Ordinance. The trial court denied plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration.


Plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred by denying their motion for summary disposition of the nuisance-per-se claim. We agree. A use of land or a dwelling, building, or structure in violation of a zoning ordinance is a nuisance per se. MCL 125.3407. A zoning ordinance is interpreted in accordance with the rules of statutory interpretation. When construing the provisions of a zoning ordinance, this Court seeks to discover and give effect to the legislative intent.  We review de novo a trial court’s decision on a motion for summary disposition. Under the MTZO, a single-family dwelling is a permitted use in the AR District. The parties disagree whether the house on Ashkay Island, because it is rented out by defendant only to individual families, constitutes a single-family dwelling.  We need not resolve the parties’ competing interpretations of what constitutes a single-family dwelling, however, because we agree with the Township that defendant’s use of the house meets the definition a “tourist home,” which is not permitted in the AR District. Tourist homes are permitted only in the Community Commercial Center Zoning District (CC District). The house on Ashkay Island is a dwelling that is being rented overnight to transient guests for compensation. Therefore, Defendant  is using the house as a tourist home. Section 4.03A of the MTZO provides that “[u]ses shall be permitted [in a District] only if they are specifically listed herein.” Because tourist homes are permitted only in the CC District, they are necessarily prohibited in the other districts, including the AR District where Ashkay Island is located. Therefore, defendant is violating the MTZO by operating a tourist home in the AR District. Plaintiffs are entitled to summary disposition of their nuisance-per-se claim. 


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