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Richardson v. Township of Brady

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
218 F.3d 508 (2000)


Facts

Robert T. Richardson (plaintiff) is the owner of 194 acres of land in the Township of Brady (Township) (defendant). The Township 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, Richardson sought to establish a nursery-swine facility on his property, on which he would raise young swine under 55 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, Richardson was limited to raising 1,999 pigs. However, Richardson 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 55 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, Richardson 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. Richardson 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 the Township and dismissed Richardson’s claims.

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Concurrence (Ryan, J.)

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