As likely a sign of our increasingly litigious society, the issue often arises whether neighbors disappointed in the granting of a variance by a municipal zoning board of appeals to an adjoining property owner can challenge the decision in court. The leading case in Michigan is Olsen v Chikaming Township, 325 Mich App 170 (2018), which held that in order for a party to challenge a decision of a municipal zoning board of appeals in court (which technically is not a lawsuit, but rather an appeal), the party must be both “aggrieved” under the law and be able to prove “special damages.”
Recently, the Michigan Court of Appeals has issued three unpublished opinions regarding the matter – Kullenberg v Township of Crystal Lake (decided on October 21, 2021; Case No. 354688; 2021 WL 4929114); Eveleigh v City of Charlevoix (decided on Ocobter 21, 2021; Case No. 354984; 20212 WL 4932573) and Hiser v Village of Mackinaw City (decided on October 21, 2021; Case Nos. 354806 and 354807; 2021 WL 4932055). The main issue in all of those decisions was whether the challenging or nearby adjoining property owner had proven special damages different than general members of the public or other property owners within the community.