East Lansing: Moving Fast With a Deadline

On May 4th, the East Lansing (EL) City Council voted to annex the 62.65 acres of property that is the future home of the EL Softball Complex and the "Family Aquatic Center" which was part of Meridian Township. The Council used The Home Rule City Act (Act 279 of 1909, Home Rule City Act ) as the basis for the legality of this annexation:

"117.9a Annexation of township remnant territory to home rule city; procedure.

Sec. 9a. Whenever the process of incorporation, consolidation, or annexation leaves a portion of a township with no qualified electors residing in that portion and without the constitutional and statutory officers to perform their functions as prescribed by law...(t)he annexation may be accomplished by the affirmative majority vote of the members-elect of the governing body of the city and approval of the majority vote of all of the members of the county board of commissioners." (see the URL above for the full text.)

However, as pointed out in a letter from Gerry Richards, Manager of Meridian Township to Ted Staton, Manager of EL, The Charter Township of Meridian is exempt from this type of annexation (voted on only by the governing body) under The Charter Township Act (Act 359 of 1947, The Charter Township Act (Act 359 of 1947 ):

"Sec. 34. (1) A charter township existing on June 15, 1978, or a township incorporated after June 15, 1978 as a charter township that complies with the following standards, is exempt from annexation to any contiguous city or village except as provided in subsections (2) to (8)..." (see the URL above for the full text.)

According to Mr. Richards, The Charter Township of Meridian is not subject to annexation by the City of East Lansing, except in accordance with subsections (2) to (8) of Section 34 of the Charter Township Act. None of those subsections include a provision allowing the City to unilaterally annex vacant property by a simple Council resolution. This suggests that EL moved a bit too hastily in their action and were not legally entitled to annex this property in this fashion. Meridian was a Charter Township before June 15, 1978.

Meridian Township does not recognize this annexation and has notified all of the interested government bodies of this. According to my reading of these two laws, the only way that EL can annex this property (which has no voters on it to my knowledge) is if it is agreed to by Meridian Township. Given the current state of the relationship between EL and Meridian, I'm guessing that's not going to be forthcoming unless it's part of some larger deal. It surprises me that EL missed this, especially since the mayor is an attorney. I'm sure there will be more to follow on this issue as the days and weeks pass. We certainly live in interesting times...

Chris Savage

Towar Gardens