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Posted on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor City Council to consider $250,000 blight fund

By Paula Gardner

Ann Arbor is seeking to start a fund to fight blight.

City Council will hear a resolution Tuesday night that asks officials to authorize a fund of up to $250,000 to secure and demolish dangerous buildings.

"Such buildings are deteriorating neighborhoods, affecting property values adversely, attracting unwanted activities and creating nuisances," according to the memo from Sumedh Balh, community services administrator.

"Owners of these properties are not taking any action to correct the situation. Community members and some of the Council members have expressed a desire for the City staff to aggressively abate dangerous buildings."

The resolution has been in the works for some time, Ralph Welton, the city's chief development official, told in December.

State law allows building officials to launch condemnation by using the city's building codes and appeals processes, instead of pursuing lengthy court battles over properties that are not maintained.

Welton made the statements in a story about a burned-out house on Pinecrest on the city's east side. That structure remained standing for about three years after the fire. Although the reason ended up being municipal red tape, it helped underscore for city officials how the process to address a dangerous structure needed streamlining.

With the measure facing council on Tuesday, officials are being asked to approve the $250,000 fund with the assurance that property owners of record will be invoiced for the actual costs incurred by the city.

"The City will use all options available to it to recover these costs," it said.

The resolution continues: "While highly unlikely, there may be a property for which the City is unable to recover its costs. This should not discourage the City to take necessary action to address dangerous buildings as abating dangerous buildings benefits the entire City."

Funding will come from the settlement of the Michigan Inn lawsuit, according to the resolution. That case involved a dilapidated hotel on the city's west side and a multi-year court battle to get it demolished.

The resolution says the city has identified properties that are designed as "dangerous" under city code. Those buildings are not identified in the resolution, but officials have said two properties on Platt and one on Nordman on the southeast side may be on the list.



Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

"While highly unlikely, there may be a property for which the City is unable to recover its costs" Calling it highly unlikely is probably highly optimistic.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Thank you for the links to ArborWiki and the council resolution. Neither of them explain or attach information about the Michigan Inn lawsuit - its progress, amounts collected, etc. The last I heard, demolition was paid for with public money in some fashion and a brownfield application was involved, but I am extremely hazy about details. It would be nice to have more information.

Brian Kuehn

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Is a separate fund really necessary? Couldn't we just budget a certain amount for demolition of abandoned properties within the appropriate department? If the money is spent, great. Otherwise, it rolls back into the General Fund surplus. As soon as we set up a separate fund, the arguement is going to go along the lines that we can't touch that money for a more pressing need because we have designated it for demolition. Eventually the demolition fund will grow to some large number but we won't be able to touch it except for demolition.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Look on the bright side: 1% will go towards public art!


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

"Fight Blight" - next Council election?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

Nice, so we allow anyone/everyone to neglect their properties, then tear them down? How does this help to increase density in town if we end up having to tear DOWN houses? Property owners have obligations...


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

They do. But when they fail to meet their obligations the city comes in and lets them know that they are taking over. Happens in Ypsilanti and happens in Detroit. Which by the way Detroit, according to an article I just read is becoming the greenest city in the country because of all of the houses and buildings they are tearing down. I don't see a problem with this at all. Ypsilanti just cleared out a lot of run down buildings on E Michigan this week. Now I am having troubles remembering what was there that went down. Yes, we do need this and so does Ann Arbor.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

The burnt out house should have and could have been taken down a long time ago if not for all the mishandled proceedings had not occurred. Where are all the rest of the "dangerous buildings" or is this just another "pot" for the city to play with. To my way of thinking if an individual owns property and it is not up to code, it is that individual's responsibility to take care of the situation. And, the city should be enforcing the laws so the individual does take care of it instead of paying for it.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

They really need to see the tenacity of Ypsilanti and Detroit when it comes to tearing these blighted areas down. Glad to hear Ann Arbor is grabbing the bull by the horns.