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Circuit Court sides with City of Houghton

An opinion in Kamin vs. City of Houghton was released Friday morning by the 12th Circuit Court. Judge Charles Goodman ruled in favor of the Houghton Planning Commission related to a dispute over its approval of a site plan for a potential Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on an outlot between Tadych’s Marketplace and Evangel Community Church. Cool Investments, LLC brought the proposal before the body on July 27,2021.

Goodman’s opinion dealt mainly with two topics. The first is whether an easement agreement that has existed as far back as 1993 could justify a circuit court review of the matter. Goodman found that it did, even though the plaintiff Daniel Kamin, the landlord for the Tadych’s property, and Evangel Community Church were not parties to the pact. The easement was designed to help ensure no structure would be put up between Shopko and what was then Ironwood Oil that could create traffic snarls.

The second issue at hand is whether the Houghton Planning Commission is required to consider the easement when it is evaluating a potential site plan. Goodman cited a 1985 case, City of Livonia vs. Department of Social Services, in ruling against the idea. He wrote:

“A privately granted easement is contractual in nature. Municipal zoning ordinances and municipal zoning decisions are not designed or intended to define or determine a parties’ rights and/or duties which may arise as a result of a private contractual agreement. Zoning laws determine the obligations of property owners to the community at large…They are separate obligations, both of which may be enforceable.”

Goodman affirmed the planning commission’s approval of the Cool Investments site plan.

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