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Planned Parenthood suit challenges hotel owners (Detroit Free Press)

Posted on the Detroit Free Press on June 24, 2011.

By Megha Satyanarayana, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer.

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Published: 06.24.11| Updated: 06.28.11

Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit against an Auburn Hills company trying to block its move onto land next door.

The suit was filed May 31 against Shri Sai-Krishna Group, owners of the adjacent Comfort Suites Hotel on Opdyke Road. Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan wants a court to decide whether city ordinances that permit its clinic supersede private restrictions, which the hotel owners say forbade the use of the land for a medical facility.

No court date has been set.

"It is not ordinary for a business to choose the range of business for another," said Desiree Cooper, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood.

James Carey, a Cooley Law School professor representing the hotel owners, said that before buying their property, his clients asked the parcel be split and demanded land use be restricted by a covenant to restaurant, retail or office use. The owners last year agreed to allow the building to be used as medical offices, according to the suit.

Carey said a medical facility violates the covenant's definition of "office," as would a plastic surgery clinic. He said Planned Parenthood's political stigma will be bad for business.

"Business owners are very much on edge," Carey said.

Planned Parenthood officials said the facility may not provide abortions. Cooper said they have thousands of patients that must seek care at other Planned Parenthood facilities.

Carey said he approached the owners and is representing them pro-bono. Abortion rights advocates said one of his students told him about the situation.

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