The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site -



Opinion No. 5360

September 11, 1978


Disposal on jointly-owned land

A group of individuals may not avoid the need to obtain a license under the provisions of 1965 PA 87 by acquiring joint ownership of a parcel of land and operating a sanitary landfill on such site.

Honorable Joseph S. Mack

State Senator

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion as to whether a group of individuals may avoid the need to obtain a license under provision of 1965 PA 87, MCLA 325.291 et seq, MSA 14.435(1) et seq, by acquiring joint ownership of a parcel of land and operating a sanitary landfill on such site.

1965 PA 87, Sec. 2, provides:

'No person shall dispose of any refuse at any place except a disposal area licensed as provided in this act. Nothing in this act nor any act of the commissioner's shall usurp the legal right of a local governing body from developing and enforcing local ordinances, codes, or rules and regulations on solid waste disposal equal to or more stringent than the provisions of this act, nor will this act relieve the applicant for license to operate a disposal area from obtaining a license from a local governing body when required or relieve the person owning or operating a disposal area from responsibility for securing proper zoning permits or complying with all applicable local ordinances, codes, or rules and regulations not in conflict with this act.'

Exceptions to the requirement of licensure are stated in 1965 PA 87, supra, Sec. 7 as follows:

'This act does not prohibit a person from disposing of refuse from his own household upon his own land as long as such disposal does not create a nuisance or hazard to health. Rubbish accumulated as a part of the improvement of the planting of privately owned farmland may be disposed of on the property provided the method used is not injurious to human life or property or unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of life and property.' (Emphasis added)

In construing a statute, the court must consider the occasion of its enactment and the purpose to be accomplished. Smith v Union Guardian Trust Co, 271 Mich 118; 260 NW 132 (1935). Also, exemptions in a statute are carefully scrutinized and are not to be extended beyond their plain meaning. Grand Rapids Motor Coach Co v Michigan Public Service Commission, 323 Mich 624; 36 NW2d 299 (1949).

Applying these principles of statutory construction, 1965 PA 87, supra, Sec. 7, permits a householder, i.e., the occupant of a residential structure, to dispose of refuse on that parcel of land on which the residential structure is situated. The act does not permit individuals to purchase, operate or maintain an unlicensed facility for the disposal of refuse from more than one household.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General