Lansing Township prevails in appeal over annexation

City of Lansing ‘disappointed,’ considering next step


FRIDAY, July 21 — The Michigan Court of Appeals sided yesterday with Lansing Township in upholding a ruling that stops the city of Lansing’s efforts to annex the Groesbeck Neighborhood portion of the township.

The ruling permanently enjoins the Ingham County County clerk from placing two initiatives on the ballot asking residents of the neighborhood to approve annexation.

Township officials argued that the city had relied on a misreading of the Michigan Township Act in pursuing the annexation proposals. In their arguments, Lansing Township officials argued that Michigan law required that unless a charter township was completely surrounded by a city or village, annexation had to be vetted by the state boundary commission and more expensive and difficult petitions.

The township comprises five noncontiguous land areas that are bordered by Lansing, East Lansing and Delta Township.

The city argued that only a portion of a charter township has to border a city or village to be annexed by a petition and ballot vote of the township voters of the area to be annexed.

Judges Michael F. Gadola, Christopher M. Murray and Allie Greenleaf Maldonado judges wrote that the city relied on “a number of rules of grammar and statutory interpretation in an attempt to support its interpretation,” of the law, but those arguments were unnecessary because the law was “clear.”

In July last year, a group of 119 residents of the Groesbeck neighborhood in Lansing Township asked the city to annex them. Lansing Mayor Andy Schor backed the move, and the City Council swiftly approved two ballot measures for the November election.

If the questions made the ballot, a simple majority of “island” voters favoring annexation could make it a reality. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum estimated 1,827 people were registered to vote in the area in 2022.

Lansing Township sued Byrum to stop her from placing the questions on the ballot. Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady III issued a preliminary injunction preventing Byrum from putting it on the ballot, and after an emergency appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals on the injunction failed, issued a permanent injunction.

The city appealed the final decision from Canady, resulting in the ruling, which was announced today. The city could appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Lansing spokesperson Scott Bean said today that the city is considering its next step.

“We are certainly disappointed with the Court of Appeals ruling. Over 100 residents of Lansing Township who live in the Groesbeck Neighborhood asked the City of Lansing to put a question of annexation on the ballot for Groesbeck, and we did that after reviewing state law. Based on that we honored the request made to us for the residents of the area to determine if they remain in the township or join the city. The township challenged this interpretation of the state law and the courts ruled in their favor. While we certainly disagree with this ruling, we will continue to support the ability of residents to ask for a vote.”

Lansing Township officials were not immediately available for comment.


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