Judge rules Planned Parenthood can open clinic in Auburn Hills (The Macomb Daily)

Published January 10, 2012 by The Macomb Daily.

By Ann Zaniewski for the Macomb Daily.

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Published: 01.10.12| Updated: 01.11.12

A judge ruled this morning that a restrictive convenant on a property in Auburn Hills does not bar Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan from operating a clinic there.

Planned Parenthood officials were pleased with the ruling and plan to move forward with opening the clinic. Opponents worry that the organization will conduct abortions at the site and said after the hearing that the ruling will be challenged.

“When someone wants to open a place of death, we’re going to fight it,” said Monica Migliorino Miller, director of the South Lyon-based Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.

Planned Parenthood officials say they have not yet decided exactly which services will be provided at the clinic.

At one time, the Planned Parenthood property at 1625 N. Opdyke and an adjacent property on which a Comfort Suites Hotel sits were owned by the same entity, which agreed, through a restrictive covenant, to limit the use of the property in question to “restaurant, retail or office.”

Planned Parenthood contended that a clinic would not violate the covenant. But the owners of the hotel believed that it would, with their attorney, James Carey, saying that the “office” use permitted by the covenant does not allow a “medical office.”

In May 2011, Planned Parenthood sued the owners of the hotel property, Shri Sai-Krishna Group, L.L.C. The lawsuit accused them of trying to interfere with its lawful use of the property and of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Oakland Circuit Judge James Alexander said today that to exclude “medical offices” from the term used in the restriction would amount to extending the scope of the restrictive covenant.

“In this case, plaintiff has the legal right to use the property as a medical office,” the judge said. “It is not for this court to make moral judgments about the efficacy of that use. So long as it is allowed legally, this court is bound to uphold the confines of the restriction.”

Lori Lamerand, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, said she was very pleased with the judge’s ruling.

“We’re full speed ahead to try and make sure that Oakland County residents get the health care they need,” Lamerand said.

Lamerand said it has not been decided which services will be offered at the clinic, and said that not all of its services are offered at every location. Planned Parenthood has 17 facilities in Michigan, she said, and abortion services are offered at four of them.

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