Land Division

Asked September 16, 2019, 2:28 PM EDT

Two years ago my neighbor died and I bought his 20 acre farm. Three acres are in Sharon Township and 17 acres are in Sylvan Township. Can a parent parcel cross Township lines? I would like to sell the 3 acre parcel and 6 acres of the 17 acre parcel to my neighbor. It looks like I have to know the division history of the parcels since 31 March 1997. Who can I hire to research that history and tell me what divisions I have available to me? Thanks Dave

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response

The definition of a parent tract may be found in the Land Division Act at MCL 560.102 as follows:

("Tract" means 2 or more parcels that share a common property line and are under the same ownership.

"Parent parcel" or "parent tract" means a parcel or tract, respectively, lawfully in existence on the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision.)

This section does not add any additional conditions as to the determination of a tract. As such, an argument could be made that tracts only need to share a common property line and have the same ownership. However, a counter argument could also be made that tracts cannot cross section lines or township lines because of jurisdictional issues. As property cannot be combined across section lines as per guidance from the Michigan State Tax Commission, it stands to reason that the same property cannot be counted across lines for division purposes. Also, each township is its own unit of government and may or may not have similar or different land division ordinances and zoning requirements.

I have not seen any court cases on this point nor have I been aware of any literature written on the subject of parent tracts crossing section lines to give even a glimmer of an interpretation. I cannot give you a definite yes or no answer. You seriously should consider consulting with a real property attorney on the parent tract question.

A parent parcel or parent tract is a property in existence on March 31, 1997 as you note. Before I hired anyone to conduct research, I would suggest a conversation with the local assessor in each of the two townships. Many townships have retained the proper records from 1997 and also many assessors can provide the parent parcel / number of available divisions to a property owner. If the township cannot provide that information, then you may wish to consult a local title office about past land records on each of the parcels in question.