GOODRICH V. DETROIT, 184 U. S. 432 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Goodrich v. Detroit, 184 U.S. 432 (1902)

Goodrich v. Detroit

No. 123

Argued January 20, 1902

Decided March 3, 1902

184 U.S. 432


Where a statute providing for the opening of streets requires notice to the parties whose land is to be taken for the street, the fact that it makes no provision for giving notice to the owners of land liable to be assessed for the improvement does not deprive such owners of their property without due process of law, and is not otherwise obnoxious to the Fourteenth Amendment.

The interest of neighboring property owners who may possibly thereafter be assessed for the benefit to their property accruing from opening a street is too remote to require notice of such improvement, in which they have no direct interest.

No notice is required to be given to individual property owners of a resolution fixing an assessment district and levying a gross amount thereon for benefits where the statute provides for a hearing in relation to the proportion each piece of property shall bear to the whole cost of the improvement and an opportunity is given to the owner of the land to be heard upon the question of the benefit derived by him from the improvement.

The fact that certain parcels of land condemned for the improvement are defectively described is no defense to a proceeding to assess benefits upon other property.

Page 184 U. S. 433

This was a bill in equity filed in the Circuit Court for the County of Wayne by Goodrich and another against the City of Detroit and its treasurer to enjoin the defendants from enforcing the collection of certain taxes assessed upon several parcels of property owned by the plaintiffs for benefits derived from the opening of Milwaukee Avenue upon the ground, amongst others, that such assessment was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and deprived plaintiffs of their property without due process of law.

These proceedings were taken under the authority of certain sections of the Compiled Laws of 1897, printed in the margin. *

Page 184 U. S. 434

The proceedings in the case were substantially as follows: on November 14, 1893, a resolution was passed by the common council providing for the opening and extending of Milwaukee Avenue, and on January 6, 1894, a petition by the city was filed in the recorder's court, together with a map or plan of the private property proposed to be taken, certified as correct by the city engineer. The owners and persons interested in the real estate proposed to be taken were duly summoned, a jury impaneled, a hearing had, and a verdict rendered condemning certain lands, and fixing the total amount of damages at $15,214.75. This verdict was confirmed by the court.

Thereafter, and on August 7, 1894, a resolution was adopted by the common council, which was rescinded on November 20, and on January 22, 1895, another was adopted of which the following is a copy:

"Resolved, that the said Common Council of the City of Detroit do hereby fix and determine that the following district and portion of said City of Detroit, to-wit: [Here follows list of descriptions, many of which are different from those in first assessment district] is benefited by the opening of Milwaukee Avenue, from Chene Street to the easterly city limits, where not already opened. And further resolved, that there be assessed and levied upon the several pieces and parcels of real estate included in the above descriptions, the amount of $15,214.75, in proportion, as near as may be, to the advantage which each

Page 184 U. S. 435

lot or parcel is deemed to acquire by this improvement. And further resolved, that the Board of Assessors of the City of Detroit be, and they are hereby, directed to proceed forthwith to make an assessment roll in conformity with the requirements of the Charter of the City of Detroit relating to special assessments for collecting the expense of public improvements when a street is graded, comprising the property hereinbefore described, upon which they shall assess and levy the amount of $15,214.75, each lot or parcel to be assessed a ratable proportion, as near as may be of said amount, in accordance to the amount of benefit derived by such improvements."

On March 12, 1895, the assessors reported an assessment roll for defraying the expenses of opening the avenue, which was affirmed by the common council April 4, 1895. The property of plaintiffs was included in the assessment district, which was fixed and determined by the common council.

Defendants filed an answer, which was a little more than a demurrer to the bill, and upon hearing upon pleadings and proofs, the bill was dismissed, an appeal taken to the supreme court, by which the decree of the circuit court was affirmed. 123 Mich. 559.

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