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