* Frankenmuth, Michigan limited size of new construction
* Wal-Mart backed out of land contract after rules adopted
By Jonathan Stempel
WASHINGTON, Jan 7 The U.S. Supreme Court on
Monday refused to hear an appeal over a Michigan city's zoning
ordinance that led Wal-Mart Stores Inc to decide not to
build a supercenter there.
Without comment, the court refused to hear a challenge by
the Loesel family to new rules limiting the size of new
construction by Frankenmuth, a German-themed city known as
The Loesels said the ordinance caused Wal-Mart to back out
of a $4 million contract to buy their land, and was "selective"
discrimination that violated their equal protection rights.
While retailers have opened thousands of "big box" stores
nationwide, several communities have tried to keep them out.
Wal-Mart bears the brunt of the opposition, from groups that
accuse the world's largest retailer of siphoning sales from
local businesses, underpaying its workers, and causing traffic
problems and harm to the environment.
The Loesels' case went to trial in 2010, and a jury awarded
them $3.6 million.
But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that
award in August 2012, saying a new trial was necessary because
it was unclear whether the jury had relied on a "factually
sufficient" theory to render its verdict.
Frankenmuth had separately challenged a trial court decision
to let jurors consider the Loesels' equal protection claim.
It also asked the Supreme Court to declare that it had
authority to adopt a generally applicable zoning ordinance
designed to "preserve local character."
Lawyers for the Loesels did not immediately respond to
requests for comment. Mary Massaron Ross, a lawyer for
Frankenmuth, had no immediate comment.
The cases are Loesel et al v. City of Frankenmuth, U.S.
Supreme Court, No. 12-563; and City of Frankenmuth v. Loesel et
al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-712.