County of Wayne v. Hathcock – (Supreme Court of Michigan 2004) This is an important case which involved a victory for land owners and a reversal of a 1981 case cited by many states in adopting redevelopment plans. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed the 1981 case of Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit case which permitted the taking of property to expand a General Motors plant. This case involved a redevelopment project for the construction of a large business and technology park with a conference center, hotel accommodations, and a recreational facility. The Wayne County Development Authority had acquired much of the property through voluntary sales, but could not acquire all of the properties necessary for the project. Some home owners simply would not sell. To complete the project, the City adopted a resolution authorizing the condemnation of various properties(approximately 46 properties) distributed in a checkerboard fashion throughout the project area. The homeowners alleged that although there would be some benefit to the public in general, the benefits to the private parties (i.e., the developers) clearly out weighed any benefit to the public, As the City failed to meet the public use for benefit prong. The Michigan Supreme Court performed a review of numerous cases to determine whether the condemnation of the properties was consistent with the common understanding of “public use” during 1963 (the year the Michigan Constitution was adopted). The court found that the takings would be appropriate in one of three scenarios: (1) where public necessity of the extreme sort requires collective action; (2) the property remains subject to public over-sight after transfer to a public entity; and (3) the property is selected because of facts of independent public significance, rather than the interest of the private entity which the property is eventually transferred. The Michigan Supreme Court found that the project did not meet any of these requirements and there is no public use. As a result, the redevelopment plan was stricken. This is a very important case because it starts a trend back towards the protection of public property rights. The Poletown decision was cited by at least 10 states in adopting redevelopment laws. The Poletown decision clearly started the erosion of private property rights. The Michigan Supreme Court, realizing the potential abuse of such a broad decision, reversed itself and sided with private property owners. The rationale of this case will be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court in the City of New London case.