HARRISON – The arduous process of addressing amassed squalor and hazards, collectively termed blight, is now seeing some long-awaited action in Hayes Township. As a result, the Hayes Township Board held a special meeting Aug. 28 to discuss and determine what that action would entail.
There were four properties for which the township’s legal representation had, on July 26, submitted filings to the 80th District Court of a 7-Day Notice of Submission, proposed Order to Abate, and a Proof of Service. Copies of those were also sent to the cited property owners.
Supervisor Rick Jones reported that four signed clean-up orders issued by Judge Joshua Farrell had been received, three of which had until that Aug. 28 to be cleaned up, and a fourth which had received an extension to Sept. 11. Taking into consideration the highly charged and contentious nature of owners of blighted properties vs. neighbors/township officials – who seek to ensure all residents have a safe, sanitary and decent place to live – this article will list only the addresses of the blighted properties in the court orders. Those addresses include: 5420 Mohawk Drive; 5330 Pointview Drive; 4953 Woodsdale St.; and 4386 Oakman Road. The first three of these will be addressed initially, as the fourth was granted more time in their court order.
The court orders were specific to each property, regarding exactly what had to be removed: junk vehicles, building materials, items stored unlawfully outdoors, rubbish, etc.
It was noted that the orders include using the Clare County Sheriff Department to accompany the clean-up crew. Trustee Ernie Teall urged that a deputy arrive with the crew to avoid lost time waiting for safety, something he deemed very important.
There also was a request that in addition to the unsolicited bidder, the township inform previously used clean-up people [specifically Cody Beemer and Buster Vasher] so they could have the opportunity to put in bids. That was set in motion with a 3-day window.
Clerk Deb Hoyt asked how many more properties were intended to be cleaned up, considering the budget the township has to work with. Treasurer Maye Tessner-Rood suggested doing a few properties, and seeing how that affects actions on the remaining properties.
Jones said the noted properties are three of the worst; another at 1490 Cranberry does not yet have a court order; 1839 Jill-Janet had been sold and cleaned up, so there will not be an order issued there. He also mentioned one on Janet Street with a lot of vehicles, and an owner who called the township hall and was threatening.
It was stated that one of the properties has somewhat neat piles of junk, and Jones said neat or not, it is still junk. Teall added that, as of the previous evening, there was a travel trailer in that yard of that property, sitting on the ground with no axels under it.
Jones mentioned that the county is trying to get loan funds to enable tear down of 11 additional dangerous buildings. The county also had provided funds for teardown of a fire-damaged home on Bilkare, where a new home will be going in.
The Board met again Aug. 31 to award the clean-up contracts for the three addresses to Property Cleanout Michigan, LLC. Costs listed for those three properties were $7,150; $7,150; and $7,550. That takes a sizeable nip out of the township’s blight budget balance of approximately $76,741. However, the clean-up costs will be billed to the property owner via first class mail, and if unpaid after 21 days’ notice to the defendant of costs and expenses, those will be added to the property tax bill.
Treasurer Maye Tessner-Rood had cautioned at the previous meeting that if the clean-up cost is unpaid and the property goes into foreclosure, the township will not be able to recoup its money.
Jones told The Cleaver that two of the cited blighted-property owners attended that Aug. 31 meeting seeking, as he put it, “to wiggle their way out.” He added that scheduled cleanups will take place soon, work that will involve bringing in dumpsters and bobcats.
Such actions are not easy for any of the parties involved, and no doubt tempers will flare. But the bottom line is that these blighted properties are violations of law which infringe on the rights and safety of others. As the properties are cleaned up in sequence, it is hoped other offending property owners will see the value in promptly cleaning up their own properties, thus avoiding the substantial bill for having it done for them.
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