Court Finds Lack Of Necessity For Taking Of Private Toll Bridge
Township of Grosse Ile v Grosse Ile Bridge Company , unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued April 4, 2006 (Docket No. 255759)
In Grosse Ile Bridge , the Township sought to condemn the owner's toll bridge. The trial court held that the Township abused its discretion in finding that it was necessary to condemn (and take over) the bridge. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision specifically finding that:
Closures of county bridge were speculative and did not justify the necessity of township's condemnation of toll bridge. The evidence showed that the county director of the department of public works did not have specific dates for the bridge repairs on the county bridge did not know when funding would be available and had no detailed studies had been performed to determine the scope of the project, and estimated that redecking the county bridge would only take three to six months.
The Township's condemnation of toll bridge was not necessary for emergency vehicle services, as private ownership of the bridge had not hindered the passage of emergency vehicles. The township supervisor did not know of problems with emergency vehicles using the toll bridge and stated that it was possible that township would handle emergency situations in same manner as bridge owner, township's emergency response plan did not require that the toll bridge be acquired for emergency purposes, and police chief had not recommended acquiring the toll bridge for emergency purposes.
Railroad's potential condemnation of toll bridge was speculative and did not justify the necessity of township's condemnation of toll bridge; although railroad official indicated he did not have the authority to make a commitment that railroad would never purchase or condemn the bridge, and stated that decision would be left to the company's board of directors, the official also stated that the railroad had absolutely no plans to acquire the toll bridge.
Township's condemnation of toll bridge was not necessary for health, safety, and welfare purposes, as there was no indication of a large population growth or a problem with evacuation of the island in an emergency; island population was only expected to grow by 300 residents within five year period, bridge's owner deferred control of bridge to emergency officials in the event of an emergency, and police chief had not recommended acquiring the bridge for emergency purposes
Township's condemnation of toll bridge not was necessary to benefit the public, although township had access to federal and state funds for the maintenance and repair of the bridge, as bridge was not in a state of disrepair and was not inadequately maintained
An application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court was filed in May of 2006. The matter is pending.