On April 17, 2009, the Court of Appeals released a published opinion in Capital Properties Group, LLC v. Center Street, LLC, affirming the circuit court’s decision granting the defendant’s motion for summary disposition on Plaintiff’s noise ordinance and nuisance claims. Defendant owns a Lansing nightclub in an area of the city zoned for business. Plaintiff owns a building next to the nightclub that contains both residential and commercial units. The court concluded that Lansing’s noise ordinance, by its plain language, only applies to areas zoned residential; that noise from a nightclub does not harm the public and so does not create a public nuisance; and that nightclub noise does not unreasonably inerfere with the plaintiff’s rights and so is not a private nuisance. Judge Kelly dissented from the decision on the private nuisance.
The court unanimously concluded that the circuit court properly ruled that Defendant did not violate the noise ordinance because it interpreted the relevant part of the ordinance to apply only to properties within an area zoned residential. The nightclub and surrounding area is zoned for commercial uses.
The court also unanimously concluded that the circuit court properly dismissed Plaintiff’s claim for a public nuisance because, under Cloverleaf Car Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 213 Mich. App. 186, 190; 540 N.W.2d 297 (1995), noise from a nightclub does not harm the public, as required to maintain a claim for a public nuisance.
Finally, the panel majority affirmed dismissal of the private nuisance claim because the nightclub’s noise (which allegedly constituted an interference of the Plaintiff’s rights) did not create an unreasonable interference. The court noted that the area was zoned for business and that the residential tenants moved into their units knowing about the presence of the nightclub. On this last claim, Judge Kelly dissented, concluded that Plaintiff met its burden to survive summary disposition, and opined that a finder of fact needed to determine whether noise from the nightclub created a substantial and unreasonable interference with Plaintiff’s rights.