689 N.W.2d 491 (Mich.App. 2004), 248848, Maatta v. Dead River Campers, Inc.

Docket Nº248848.
Citation689 N.W.2d 491, 263 Mich.App. 604
Opinion JudgePER CURIAM.
Party NameRoger MAATTA, Larry Nault, and Arthur Mann, Plaintiff-Appellants, v. DEAD RIVER CAMPERS, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney[263 Mich.App. 605] Murphy & Clark (by Thomas H. Clark), Marquette, for the plaintiffs. McDonald, Marin & Kipper, L.L.P. (by William I. McDonald), Marquette, for the defendant.
Judge PanelBefore: WHITBECK, C.J., and GRIFFIN and BORRELLO, JJ.
Case DateSeptember 21, 2004
CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)

Page 491

689 N.W.2d 491 (Mich.App. 2004)

263 Mich.App. 604

Roger MAATTA, Larry Nault, and Arthur Mann, Plaintiff-Appellants,

v.

DEAD RIVER CAMPERS, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

No. 248848.

Court of Appeals of Michigan

September 21, 2004

Submitted May 19, 2004, at Marquette

[263 Mich.App. 605] Murphy & Clark (by Thomas H. Clark), Marquette, for the plaintiffs.

McDonald, Marin & Kipper, L.L.P. (by William I. McDonald), Marquette, for the defendant.

Before: WHITBECK, C.J., and GRIFFIN and BORRELLO, JJ.

PER CURIAM.

In this case of first impression, plaintiffs appeal as of right the trial court's order dismissing their complaint and dissolving a temporary injunction against defendant. Plaintiffs, who sought a permanent injunction preventing the use of a lot in the Dead River Basin development as a public access site, alleged that defendant's use of the site violated a restrictive covenant limiting the use of lots in the development to "single-family residential purposes and incidental recreational uses," and another forbidding activities that are offensive, annoying, or a nuisance. Because we find that the trial court erred by holding that defendant could, by supermajority vote, revoke a restrictive covenant regarding one particular lot, we reverse.

Page 492

I. Background

This case arises from plaintiffs' effort to enforce restrictive covenants against defendant, a corporate association of property owners, in a 375-lot residential development next to the Dead River Basin, a reservoir [263 Mich.App. 606] created by the Hoist Dam in Marquette County in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Defendant is a closed corporate association that bought three thousand to four thousand acres of land near the Dead River Basin. Defendant subdivided and sold lots and a corresponding share in the association. Most buyers had maintained "camps" or cabins on the land under license from the previous owner, Longyear Realty Corporation, for many years. Plaintiffs bought several of the seven lots shown on Assessor's Plat 23. Defendant retained ownership of lot 4 in plat 23, which had been used since the mid-to late-1970s as a public access site. Lot 4 is equipped with a concrete boat launch ramp, pit toilets, and a parking lot.

In the summer of 2001, after experiencing numerous problems because of the public accessing lot 4, plaintiffs attempted to pass a shareholder resolution closing it. The resolution failed. Plaintiffs then sought a permanent injunction against public access to lot 4, claiming that it violated covenant 4.1, which required that lots in the development be used only for residential and incidental recreational purposes, and covenant 4.2, which forbade activities within the development that were offensive or annoying or created a nuisance.

On November 21, 2001, the trial court entered a stipulated temporary injunction closing lot 4 until the litigation was resolved. In December 2002, defendant drafted a proposed shareholder resolution to exempt lot 4 from covenant 4.1, which resolution stated that the lease of lot 4 to the state would require the state to construct an alternate access road to the site. The covenants allowed amendments by affirmative vote of two-thirds of the 375 lot owners, or 250 owners. Two hundred sixty-six members voted in favor of the resolution.

[263 Mich.App. 607] At the end of a bench trial, the court ruled that the resolution exempted lot 4 from covenant 4.1. The court also ruled that covenant 4.2, "which limit[ed] activities and uses that would be annoying, offensive or a nuisance, in a lay sense, to the other lot owners require[d] the use of a community standard or a reasonable lot owner standard and not a subjective individual standard." The trial court then held that "[o]bjections by the plaintiffs to lawful recreational activities by members of the public who use the access for fishing and hunting and boating do not in this Court's opinion meet the reasonable lot owner test or community standard that I think has to apply." The court continued: "Anyway, I am going to do a balancing test, just so that review in this case can be complete, if necessary. And I think that will lead ultimately to this Court's conclusion that my decision to find against the plaintiffs is the fair thing to do." The court discussed the factors weighing against closure of lot 4 before concluding "the fair thing to do is to deny the plaintiffs relief." The trial court denied plaintiffs' subsequent motion for a new trial or a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and plaintiffs now appeal.

II. Standard of Review

This Court reviews de novo equitable actions. We review the findings of fact supporting the decision for clear error. Webb v. Smith (After Second Remand), 224 Mich.App. 203, 210, 568 N.W.2d 378 (1997).

III. Amendment of the Restrictive Covenant

Plaintiffs raise an issue of first impression in our state. Specifically, plaintiffs

Page 493

argue that defendant was not permitted to amend the restrictive covenants to remove restrictions from one lot while leaving them [263 Mich.App. 608] intact for the remaining lots. Plaintiffs contend that because the restrictive covenants were created and imposed uniformly on the lots they were intended to protect, property owners who assumed the burden of complying with restrictive covenants were entitled to receive the corresponding benefit of their neighbors' compliance unless the covenants stated otherwise. Plaintiffs state that although they were aware that the covenants at issue could be amended, they were entitled to--and did--rely on this principle of uniformity because the amendment procedure did not address or permit non-uniform amendments or exceptions. Plaintiffs argue that because nothing in the declaration of covenants permitted non-uniform amendments or exemptions, and because the declaration requires that "all buyers and subsequent owners must accept the Lots...

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4 practice notes
  • 534 S.W.3d 558 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 2017), 04-16-00063-CV, Teal Trading and Development, LP v. Champee Springs Ranches Property Owners Association
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals of Texas
    • July 5, 2017
    ...rule announced in Zent, but factually distinguishing it); see also, e.g., Maatta v. Dead River Campers, Inc., 263 Mich.App. 604, 689 N.W.2d 491 (2004); Walton v. Jaskiewicz, 317 Md. 264, 563 A.2d 382 (1989); Ridge Park Home Owners v. Pena, 88 N.M. 563, 544 P.2d 278&......
  • Katz v. Riverwood Subdivision Homeowners Association, 070610 MICA, 288624
    • United States
    • Michigan Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • July 6, 2010
    ...to all the lots in the subdivision. In support of this argument, plaintiffs reply brief cites to Maatta v Dead River Campers, Inc, 263 Mich.App. 604; 689 N.W.2d 491 (2004). While Maatta does contain language that supports plaintiffs' argument regarding the purpose of restrictive covenants, ......
  • King v. State, 012110 MICA, 288290
    • United States
    • Michigan Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • January 21, 2010
    ...reviews de novo the findings of fact supporting the decision in an equitable action for clear error. Maatta v Dead River Campers, Inc, 263 Mich.App. 604, 607; 689 N.W.2d 491 (2004). III. Analysis The following sections of the 2004 Insurance Code are at issue in this case: MCL 500.205; MCL 5......
  • Fractured Markets and Legal Institutions
    • United States
    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 100-2, January 2015
    • January 1, 2015
    ...558 S.E.2d 31, 34 (Ga. Ct. App. 2001); Walton v. Jaskiewicz, 563 A.2d 382, 386 (Md. 1989); Maatta v. Dead River Campers, Inc., 689 N.W. 2d 491, 498 (Mich. Ct. App. 2004). 2015] FRACTURED MARKETS AND LEGAL INSTITUTIONS 645 “horizontal” arrangement among the homeowners, who eventually take it......
3 cases
  • 534 S.W.3d 558 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 2017), 04-16-00063-CV, Teal Trading and Development, LP v. Champee Springs Ranches Property Owners Association
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals of Texas
    • July 5, 2017
    ...rule announced in Zent, but factually distinguishing it); see also, e.g., Maatta v. Dead River Campers, Inc., 263 Mich.App. 604, 689 N.W.2d 491 (2004); Walton v. Jaskiewicz, 317 Md. 264, 563 A.2d 382 (1989); Ridge Park Home Owners v. Pena, 88 N.M. 563, 544 P.2d 278&......
  • Katz v. Riverwood Subdivision Homeowners Association, 070610 MICA, 288624
    • United States
    • Michigan Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • July 6, 2010
    ...to all the lots in the subdivision. In support of this argument, plaintiffs reply brief cites to Maatta v Dead River Campers, Inc, 263 Mich.App. 604; 689 N.W.2d 491 (2004). While Maatta does contain language that supports plaintiffs' argument regarding the purpose of restrictive covenants, ......
  • King v. State, 012110 MICA, 288290
    • United States
    • Michigan Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • January 21, 2010
    ...reviews de novo the findings of fact supporting the decision in an equitable action for clear error. Maatta v Dead River Campers, Inc, 263 Mich.App. 604, 607; 689 N.W.2d 491 (2004). III. Analysis The following sections of the 2004 Insurance Code are at issue in this case: MCL 500.205; MCL 5......
1 books & journal articles
  • Fractured Markets and Legal Institutions
    • United States
    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 100-2, January 2015
    • January 1, 2015
    ...558 S.E.2d 31, 34 (Ga. Ct. App. 2001); Walton v. Jaskiewicz, 563 A.2d 382, 386 (Md. 1989); Maatta v. Dead River Campers, Inc., 689 N.W. 2d 491, 498 (Mich. Ct. App. 2004). 2015] FRACTURED MARKETS AND LEGAL INSTITUTIONS 645 “horizontal” arrangement among the homeowners, who eventually take it......