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Posted on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township demands payback for $92,000 cleanup at dilapidated mobile home parks

By Tom Perkins


The now-cleared mobile home park on Harris Road will be converted into a recreational park.

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti Township is bringing to a close another mobile home park saga.

But first, township officials want the owners of two neglected parks to pay the township’s cost for demolishing the dilapidated and problematic structures on the properties.

In February, the parks’ owners, WOC Realty, walked away from the two properties at 2590 E. Michigan Ave. and 117 S. Harris Road, just south of the Ford Boulevard bridge over East Michigan Avenue. They did so as the township sought the courts' help in addressing a litany of issues there.

Ypsilanti Township’s attorneys are asking a Washtenaw County Trial Court judge to order the former owners to reimburse the township for the money it spent clearing the dilapidated parks.

That total comes to approximately $92,000 plus another $1,500 in attorney fees.

A hearing to resolve the matter will be held before Judge Donald Shelton on December 6.

Township Attorney Doug Winters said he plans to show before and after pictures to illustrate the parks’ transformation.

“It reminds me a lot of that 1970s Rod Stewart song “Every Picture Tells a Story,” Winters said in a memo to the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees.

Ypsilanti Township beat out another bidder for the properties in the county’s auction this fall and acquired both for $8,500.

The Harris Road mobile home park has been totally cleared of structures and already resembles a recreation park. It will be fully converted into a park that is adjacent to the Harris baseball diamonds.

“It will be a great segue into the existing park system,” Winters said.

The East Michigan Avenue property is being cleared of its remaining infrastructure and will be converted into commercial real estate and put up for sale.

During inspections of the two properties in 2012, officials had trouble determining which mobile homes were inhabited and which weren’t. Many of the homes were in a state of extreme disrepair.

Doors and windows were broken on units throughout the parks, and siding was falling off many of the homes. Others faced structural issues ranging from collapsing porches to leaking and collapsing roofs.

On Feb. 15, officials received a report that the drinking water at the East Michigan Avenue park was contaminated. Garbage was spilling out the front doors and windows of one of the units there.

After WOC owners walked away from the parks, the township’s Office of Community Standards was left to deal with the cleanup and help residents find relocation assistance through the county.

The company’s owners, Robert Stahl, Mike Peters and Kim Peters, failed to show up for a hearing in July and were held in contempt of court.

At that hearing, Shelton wrote an emergency order authorizing the township to demolish all the remaining homes in each park and clear the land of any structures or utility infrastructure. was unable to reach any representative from WOC.

“We got all the dangerous units and blight removed,” Winters said. “It’s a good start.”


Ben Petiprin

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

I think a better legal precedent would be forcing the owners of the parks to pay the relocation expenses of the people who had to move out. Those are the ones who have really been hurt by the park owners' negligence.

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

yea, good luck with that. if they couldn't pay to keep it up, how they gonna pay now? township will put a lien on the property for collection at future sale.

Atticus F.

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 2 p.m.

And what about the person who was outbid on the property? Maybe they would have been inclined to bid more, had they known that they would be reimbursed 92k by the previous owner. I'm sorry, but Ypsi Township is NOT above the law. And for them to swoop in, take down a prime piece of real estate for $8,000, and then demand money from the previous owners is unfair, and an insult to everybody who participated in the auction.

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

The blight ordinance gives the Township authority to proceed with clean up and send the clean up bill to the property owners. That appears to be what was done here. The Township, in its efforts to seek reimbursement for the clean up cost, is not limited to filing a lien on the property before foreclosure as stated by Atticus. I think those opposing the Township's process are not fully understanding either the blight ordinance or the effect of having a court order requiring immediate clean up.

Atticus F.

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

chaely, this is a huge property, along the Michigan ave corridor, which has the potential to be zoned commercial. It has a significant value.

Atticus F.

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

because they had the right to file a lean against the property, before forclosure, but chose not to. Thats why... Also, I'm not saying they are above the law in the sense that they didn't have the right to clean up the property. What I'm saying, is that when the property is forclosed upon, they do not have any legal recourse to go after the previous owner.

Chaely Chartier

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

I would hardly call that prime real estate. Almost every building around it is vacant or low income housing. I can't imagine who would have built something there & what they would build besides another crappy trailer park. The best thing they could do with it now is turn it into a park with additional parking for baseball season @ Anderson Field & I don't think that's worth much as far as a return on investment goes.

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

Bad facts, bad analysis. The Township got court approval to do the clean-up which was required for public safety and per the blight ordinance. How can executing your responsibilities under the seal of court order be acting "above the law"? And how can you claim that this is "prime piece of real estate" when the highest bidder for this property (then afflicted with blight and pollution) was $8,000? The market spoke and said it was nearly valueless. Come on, people.

Atticus F.

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

I've purchased numerous properties at tax sales, and I can tell you that once you purchase the property, you take responsibility of ownership... Which includes clean up, fix up, and even responsibility for ground contamination. Every county tax auction that I've ever been to, the first statement that you read is "do your own due dilligence". I guess the questios is, did they pay 92k before they purchased the property, or after it had already been forclosed upon.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 1 p.m.

"Every county tax auction that I've ever been to, the first statement that you read is "do your own due dilligence"." It's a little too late for due diligence at that point.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

See, it's the order that made it legal. 1. Get a judge to sign off on cleaning it up 2. Clean it up 3. Send a bill 4. Put it up for sale 5. Buy it yourself Now you own the property, but still have a bill for the previous owners to pay. It's called "Milking the system" and the township hates it when people do it to them, but have no problem turning it around. It's just how things work these days.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Thank You ---They have no clue ---


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

Don't you think you should have the money approved before you do the work. Oh that's right this is Ypsi-Tucky again

Atticus F.

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

noflamers, the Township has no recourse at this point in time. Their only recourse, would have been to file a lean against the property, before forclosure, which would have effected the minimum bid of the property. For some reason, they decided not to file a lean against the property, and they can NOT file a retroactive lean against the property, once the property has already been forclosed upon.

Chaely Chartier

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

The site wasn't just an eyesore, it was a hazard. I can see it from my house & there were kids playing among the broken glass & insulation & piles of people's discarded belongings daily until they started cleanup. Leaving it alone until a settlement was reached would have certainly resulted in someone getting hurt.

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

The money was spent to fix a blight per a court order. The private owners failed to show in court to contest the process and thereby forfeited their chance to participate.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

"demands payback for $92,000 " So they have no clue how they will be repaid --Oh but we will still spend That's Planning ahead


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

The money is already "approved."

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Great news. Thanks Ypsi Township officials for making blight clean-up such a high priority. Great use of funds to buy the property at auction too. Keep up the good work!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

I am excited to see an addition on that one park on Ford Road. Wow. Can't wait to see blight go to nice. That has been an eyesore for so long and a problem for the police as well. Glad to hear we are getting a park. Will the other blight become a park too? Wow.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

so if I buy a forclosed property at the county tax sale, fix it up, can I to ask the previous owners to re-imburse me for fixing it up?

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

I think we need to separate the two financial transactions. First, the Township sought a received a court order to clean up the property owned by private persons. This is the $92k that the Township spent and is now seeking to recover. Secondly, the Township bought the property at a public auction. The fact that the Township won the auction doesn't change the fact that they corrected the blight and incurred costs that they can and should be reimbursed for.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

That's what the judge is going to decide, isn't it?