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West Michigan Couple Sues Township to Open Green Cemetery

Peter and Annica Quakenbush of Grand Rapids have sued Brooks Township in Newaygo County alleging that the Township violated their constitutional rights by adopting a cemetery ordinance that bans any new cemeteries. The lawsuit was filed on January 11, 2024 in Newaygo County Circuit Court. 

The lawsuit states that the Quakenbushes seek to operate a conservation burial ground and nature preserve on a forested 20-acre parcel in Brooks Township. It alleges that they obtained approval from the Local Health Department and were working with the Township zoning administrator to obtain a special land use permit. They allege that the Township Board then passed a zoning ordinance banning all new cemeteries within the Township.

The Quakenbush's suit claims that the ordinance violates their rights under the Michigan Constitution to use private property and to engage in any business that does not harm the public, subject to reasonable regulation of the public's health, safety or welfare, and therefore violates due process and other protections. The suit seeks a judgement declaring the ordinance unconstitutional, the entry of a permanent injunction preventing the Township from enforcing the ordinance, and nominal damages.

The Township has not yet filed its response to the allegations.  

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