Proceedings | 2013

City of South Haven v. Van Buren County Road Comm’n

  • Authored by:  Mich. App. 233

City of South Haven v. Van Buren County Road Comm’n, 715 NW 2d 81, 270 Mich. App. 233 (2006)

      The City of South Haven filed suit against the Van Buren County Road Commission (VBCRC) for denying a driveway permit request to connect a city-owned commercial parcel and a controlled access corridor.  The VBCRC denied the request based on the city’s inability to produce a traffic impact analysis.  The city argued that, according to the driveway act (MCL 247.321 et seq.), the permit met all standards and requirements and should be approved.  The trial court dismissed the case based on VBCRC’s legitimate safety concerns. 

      The city appealed the trial court’s decision, stating that the city complied to all rules and that a writ of mandamus, forcing the VBCRC to approve the permit, was in order.  The appellate court denied the request for writ of mandamus, stating that access management decisions are not the “product of simple formulas involving no discretion or judgment on the part of the highway authority to which the responsibility to issue driveway permits has been delegated….such decisions involve consideration of a number of principles, predicated primarily on public safety, and which can only be applied on a case by case basis.”  The court cited the state department of transportation access management guidebook to support this opinion: “The goal of access management is to achieve a safe and efficient flow of traffic along a roadway while preserving reasonable access to abutting properties.”  The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision in support of the VBCRC, remaining consistent with the department of transportation access management guidebook by deeming that discretion in necessary in granting driveway permits “based on the unique circumstances of each individual request.” NOTE: “writ of mandamus” is a court decision that requires a lower court or governmental entity to perform an action in accordance with its regular duties and responsibilities.

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