In this declaratory judgment action, plaintiff appeals from the trial court's order granting partial summary disposition to defendants Dayton Township Board (the township) and Dorothy Dykhouse.
I. Facts and Proceedings
Plaintiff operates a farm in Dayton Township where it grows various fruits and vegetables that require harvest by hand. In order to facilitate the harvest, plaintiff employs forty to fifty migrant agricultural workers during the harvest season each year. Like many other farms of this nature, plaintiff provides temporary housing for its migrant agricultural workers. To meet its future labor needs, plaintiff decided to build three additional housing units to accommodate more agricultural workers. Plaintiff sought and obtained preliminary authorization from the Michigan Department of Agriculture, as required, to construct the additional housing. However, plaintiff was informed that in order to proceed with construction, it needed to obtain a special exception use permit from the township board because the township's zoning ordinance does not permit this type of housing in the Agricultural-3 (A-3) district where plaintiff's land is situated.
Rather than seeking the special exception use permit, plaintiff filed the instant action seeking a declaration that portions of the Michigan Public Health Code,
II. Standard of Review
We review de novo the trial court's decision on a motion for summary disposition. Pohutski v. Allen Park, 465 Mich. 675, 681, 641 N.W.2d 219 (2002). We also review de novo questions of statutory interpretation. Id.
Defendant's authority to regulate the use of land within Dayton Township is derived from the Township Rural Zoning Act, M.C.L. § 125.271 et seq. The township's authority under the act is broad and is to be liberally construed in favor of the
Plaintiff argues that the limitations on the location of migrant labor housing are invalid because they are preempted by state law. A state law preempts an ordinance "if 1) the statute completely occupies the field that the ordinance attempts to regulate, or 2) the ordinance directly conflicts with a state statute." Rental Property Owners Ass'n of Kent Co. v. Grand Rapids, 455 Mich. 246, 257, 566 N.W.2d 514 (1997). Plaintiff argues that preemption exists for both of these reasons. We disagree.
To determine whether a statute completely occupies a field of regulation so as to preempt local control, the following guidelines apply:
Here, plaintiff asserts that preemption arises under the third and fourth of these guidelines. With regard to pervasiveness, plaintiff argues that regulation of migrant labor housing in part 124 of the Public Health Code, M.C.L. § 333.12401 et seq., the MIOSHA, M.C.L. § 408.1001 et seq., and administrative rules promulgated pursuant to their authority is so extensive that any local control has been preempted.
The sections of the Public Health Code plaintiff relies on require the "camp operator" (in this case, plaintiff) to apply for a license to operate an agricultural labor camp. MCL 333.12411-333.12412. The department will issue the license if after investigating and inspecting the camp, it "finds that the camp and its proposed operation conforms or will conform to the minimum standards of construction, health, sanitation, sewage, water supply, plumbing, garbage and rubbish disposal, and operation set forth in the rules promulgated under section 12421." MCL 333.12413. The administrative rules promulgated pursuant to the act further regulate the camps to ensure the health and
We find further support for our conclusion in the language of M.C.L. § 333.1203 and 1999 AC, R 325.3605, where local control of migrant housing is expressly permitted. MCL 333.1203, found in the general provisions of the Public Health Code, states:
Here, the applicable provisions of the zoning ordinance are those that affect the use of plaintiff's land. Plaintiff contends that these provisions are not consistent with the Public Health Code and that they violate the statute. However, because the location of an agricultural labor camp within the township is not contemplated in the cited portion of the Public Health Code, we cannot conclude that the applicable provisions of the ordinance are inconsistent with the statutory requirements.
Similarly, Rule 325.3605(1) states that "[t]hese rules apply to all agricultural labor camps. A provision in these rules shall not take precedence over a requirement in an applicable local rule, ordinance, or code when such requirement is more stringent than the provision in these rules." Although the rules do not contain a provision that parallels the location limitation in the zoning ordinance, this rule demonstrates that local control of agricultural labor camps is still permitted.
Likewise, the cited portions of the MIOSHA do not address the location of the camps. Plaintiff argues that "Rule 4301" governs temporary labor camps, but this rule is not a part of the administrative code and does not have the force of law. Clonlara, Inc. v. State Bd. of Ed., 442 Mich. 230, 239, 501 N.W.2d 88 (1993).
In sum, a reading of the pertinent sections of the zoning ordinance in conjunction with the cited statutes reveals that the ordinance addresses concerns not affected by the statutes and administrative rules discussed above. Therefore, the state's regulation is not so pervasive that it would support a finding of preemption.
With regard to the fourth guideline in Rental Property Owners, plaintiff argues that the nature of migrant labor housing requires a uniform system of regulation within the state. With regard to the condition of the housing, this is certainly true. Inspectors need to be able to apply the same standards of suitability and safety wherever the housing is located throughout the state. With regard to the location of the housing within a township, however, this is not the case. Zoning ordinances
We also find that the zoning ordinance is not preempted because of a conflict between the zoning ordinance and state laws and rules. In Rental Property Owners, supra at 262, 566 N.W.2d 514, the Court adopted the following language from 56 Am Jur 2d, Municipal Corporations, § 374, pp 408-409:
Using this test, we find that no conflict exists here because the state regulations do not address the subject of the zoning ordinance—the location of a use of land within the township.
Finally, plaintiff argues on appeal that because the trial court stated that state regulation did not "totally exempt" a person from complying with the local zoning authority, it meant to indicate that some degree of preemption did exist and that it abused its discretion by failing to resolve this question in its ruling on plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. We disagree. The trial court's language in its conclusion simply mirrored the manner in which the issue had been previously phrased: whether "the state regulatory scheme for migrant housing totally preempts local zoning ordinances" (emphasis added). The trial court did not find that preemption existed to any extent.