A motion filed by Howell Township’s zoning administrator to be dismissed from a federal lawsuit has been granted.

Crossroads Outdoor LLC, an all-digital billboard company, filed the suit last October in U.S. District Court in Detroit against both Howell Township and Zoning Administrator Joe Daus. The suit alleges that the township's moratorium on new sign applications enacted in March of 2018 violated their First Amendment rights, specifically as it granted the zoning administrator the power to regulate the content of the signs. It also alleges violations of their due process rights. Daus argued that he was carrying out his duties as zoning administrator and should be dismissed from the lawsuit. In a ruling issued last month, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Murphy agreed, saying that Daus objected to the proposed location of the sign, not the content of the messages it would contain. The ruling leaves the township as the sole defendant.

Crossroads Outdoor LLC had applied to place an electronic billboard on the property of the Howell American Legion Devereaux Post 141 in January of 2017, but contends they were repeatedly stalled and delayed in gaining approval until a new ordinance went into effect last November. The company claims it has suffered monetary loss due to the township’s actions. The township says its land use planner determined the site was, “not viable to erect a billboard because of its over-development and existing uses” and that the proposed billboard itself was never the basis for the application’s denial. A trial is scheduled for September of 2020. (JK)