Haynes v Village of Beulah,1 a recent decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals, protects municipalities from losing certain public rights-of-ways to claims of adverse possession and acquiescence. There are a number of statutes that protect municipalities from these claims, and it was once thought that all municipal property was immune from them. That changed in 2009, when Mason v City of Menominee2 held that the protection in MCL 600.5821 only applies if the municipality files a lawsuit to reclaim its interest in property before the party-in-use files a lawsuit of its own. The Mason decision — which was based on odd wording in the statute — meant that a municipality could jeopardize its property rights by attempting to negotiate with the party-in-use rather than "racing to the courthouse."
The Haynes decision makes clear that a separate statute (MCL 247.190) protects public highways from adverse possession and acquiescence claims regardless of which party files suit first. It also specifically holds that the term "highway" is broad enough to include platted village streets, rather than being limited to state trunk-line highways. This ruling restores significant protections that were undermined by Mason, but it is too early to tell exactly how far the scope of the "highway" protection extends.