The relevant facts of the case are that defendants Rodney and Darcy Tomkins owned a two-acre lot that abutted a county road that was perpendicular to the new M-6 highway. Tomkins, 270 Mich App at 154-55.

M-6 is an approximately twenty-mile highway that connects I-96 and I-196 south of Grand Rapids. According to MDOT, the plans for it were approved in the early 1990s, and construction began in 1997.[1] A portion of the project opened in 2001, and the project was completed in 2004. MDOT indicates that as of September 2005, 47,000 vehicles a day were recorded by a traffic counter on M-6.[2]

According to the United States Census Bureau, Michigan had just over 10,000,000 residents in July 2006.[3] According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, there were more than 4,400,000 personal income tax returns filed in Michigan in 2005.[4] MDOT indicated that the entire M-6 project cost $650,000,000.[5]

Defendants’ lot does not touch M-6. Id. at 155. But MDOT condemned a forty-nine-foot by 120-foot strip of defendants’ property to build a bridge over M-6. Id. Both the defendants’ appraiser and MDOT’s appraiser agreed that the value of this strip standing alone was $3,800. Id. But the defendants’ appraiser further computed that the value of the property that the defendants retained (two acres minus the small strip condemned) had diminished $48,200 due to "highway effects," which included the "additional ‘dust, dirt, noise, vibration, and smell’" from the new highway nearby. Id. (citation omitted).

Citing § 20(2) of the Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act, MCL 213.70(2), and Spiek v Michigan Department of Transportation, 456 Mich 331 (1998), which denied an inverse-condemnation claim for highway effects, MDOT filed a motion in limine with the trial court seeking to prevent the $48,200 figure from being introduced into evidence. The trial court granted that motion. The Court of Appeals noted that Spiek was an inverse-condemnation case and held that Spiek was not controlling in a partial-takings case.

On June 15, 2007, this Court granted leave to appeal and ordered the parties and interested amici to address the following questions: (1) what was the ratifiers’ common understanding of the phrase "just compensation" when they ratified Const 1963, art 10, § 2, and was it commonly understood that "just compensation" in inverse condemnation cases was different than "just compensation" in direct partial-takings cases; and (2) whether § 20(2) of the Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act, MCL 213.70(2), impermissibly conflicts with this established meaning of "just compensation."


[1] www.michigan.gov/documents/MDOT_M-6_opening_brochure_ 108685_7.pdf.

[2] http://michigan.gov/som/0,1607,7-192-29907_34764-130936--,00.html.

[3] www.census.gov/popest/states/tables/NST-EST2006-01.xls.

[4] www.michigan.gov/documents/treasury/IT_2005_206869_7.pdf
(available at the time of printing)
See www.michigan.gov.

[5] www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-9620-104861--,00.html.