“Although DDH vehemently opposes oil and gas exploration and drilling in and around the CITY of Rochester Hills, this case is not about the relative merits and dangers posed by oil and gas drilling and production in and around the CITY. This is a voters‟ rights case about the denial of city voters’ right to vote on the CITY‟s agreements with JORDAN and SUNOCO.”
“The heart of this matter involves discerning the intent of the Rochester Hills voters when they passed a voter initiated referendum”… “required that such property be used only for park purposes, and not be sold, leased, transferred, exchanged or converted to another use without voter approval.”
Court of Appeals Hearing Mar. 8, 2016
Don’t Drill The Hills and defendants present oral arguments
Don’t Drill The Hills (DDH) presented its voting rights case to the Michigan Court of Appeals on March 8, 2016. The parties in the lawsuit went before a panel of Judges and each presented their arguments. DDH is insisting that a park comprises the entire property, including subsurface oil and gas rights, and that the voters of the City were denied a right to vote on the lease the City granted for Nowicki Park, Tienken Park, Stoney Creek Cemetery, and the oil pipeline easement it granted in Bloomer Park. Now we wait. The Court will be issuing its decision in a written opinion shortly, perhaps within the next month.
Appeal Nov. 11, 2014
Don’t Drill the Hills Appeals Local Circuit Judge’s Ruling November 11, 2014
Read the press release here: DDHI_Press_Release_11.19.14
Read the reply filed by the City of Rochester Hills: Rochester Hills Reply Brief
Read the reply filed by Sunoco Pipeline: Sunoco’s Reply Brief
Original Ruling Nov. 4, 2014
Circuit Court judge’s Opinion and Order on November 4, 2014Opinion and Order re motion for Summary Disposition
Legal analysis of the November 4 ruling:
Understanding the November 4 ruling for the non-legal professional:
Lawsuit Filed May 15, 2014
Don’t Drill the Hills, Inc. (DDHI), is a non-profit, grassroots group of local citizens opposed to oil and gas drilling projects in their community. The group filed legal action on May 15, 2014 against the City of Rochester Hills for signing a lease for oil and gas exploration of City-owned park and cemetery properties.
At issue is a resident-driven 2011 City Charter Amendment. The amendment states that City-owned parks cannot be sold/leased or converted to a non-recreation or non-conservation use,without approval of the City’s voters in an open election. The City Charter protects not just the surface of the park land in Rochester Hills, but the entire property, including its subsurface resources.
The lawsuit asserts that by signing a lease with Jordan, the Mayor and City Council:
- Violated the City Charter (Sec. 11.8).
- Violated Michigan law (MCL 117.5(e)) which requires voter approval for the sale of city parks and cemeteries designated as such in the City’s Master Plan.
- Acted beyond the scope of their power, and took away the citizen’s right to vote on the lease.
Read the press release here: DON’T DRILL THE HILLS, INC. FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY OF ROCHESTER HILLS FOR CHARTER VIOLATION
Download press release here: DDHI_Press_Release_5.15.14
Get the details on the background and basis for this lawsuit:
Pleadings submitted to court by partiesClink links below to download documents:
Filed by Don’t Drill The Hills:
(original complaint: Processed-Complaint_for_Declaratory_Relief.pdf)
Filed by City of Rochester Hills:
City of Rochester Hills’ Answer to Complaint: City of RH’s Answer to Complaint
City of Rochester Hills’ first motion to dismiss: Rochester Hills Motion to Dismiss (MSD)
City of Rochester Hills’ amended brief: City’s Amended Brief Supporting MSD
Filed by Jordan Development:
Jordan’s first motion to dismiss: Processed-Jordan_Mtn_to_dismiss_FILED_WITH_COURT.pdf
Jordan’s second motion to dismiss: Jordan’s Second MSD
Filed by Sunoco:
Sunoco’s first motion to dismiss: Sunoco’s Motion for Summary Disposition
Sunoco’s amended brief: Sunoco’s Amended MSD
Exhibits or Relevant Documents:
DDHI selected attorney Timothy J. Lozen as its counsel for this matter. Tim is the founder of Lozen, Kovar & Lozen, P.C. and has been practicing law since 1985. His practice focuses on environmental law, real estate and business law, municipal and drain law, condemnation proceedings, litigation, and assisting area businesses, municipalities and individuals with their legal needs. His credentials are available at: http://www.lozenlaw.com/attorneys-staff/tim-lozen/