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Posted on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Residents: Sewage, rot, fire hazards plague apartment complex

By Tom Perkins


Old raw sewage outside apartments on Riley Court off Michigan Avenue.

Tom Perkins |

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect a name change for the apartment complex.

Outside Shannon Herrington's apartment at an apartment complex on Riley Court complex in Ypsilanti Township there is dried toilet paper and sewage caked to the ground. They're the remnants of a puddle of raw sewage tenants say sat outside the building for several weeks before management finally cleaned it up and tried to fix the problem.

But even now, a township building inspector says the repair wasn’t done right, and residents in the immediate area still have backups and plumbing issues they say are caused by the sewage line.

Residents also allege that management at the Stewart Beal-owned Beal Properties tried to charge them $600 to repair the leaking line.

The puddle of raw sewage is just one of a litany of problems residents say they deal with at the complex, formerly known as Riley Court and now called MeadowRidge, and Ypsilanti Township is now asking a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order the property brought up to code.

The township charges in court documents that the complex is riddled with safety hazards and a range of code violations from serious to minor that affect residents’ safety and welfare.

Beal said Ypsilanti Township recently notified him of "various concerns with the way the property was being managed."

"I quickly determined that the manager this property had been entrusted with was not managing the property to our standards," Beal said. "This manager was removed and a new manager has been put in place. Violations identified by the township are being corrected."

Officials say the complex has also been a drain on police resources and required more than 100 visits from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department deputies in 2012 alone. The complex has seen a stabbing and shooting in recent months, and tenants complain that Beal doesn't conduct a background check on new residents.

Officials say the violations and issues at the complex off Michigan Avenue outlined in the Sept. 4 lawsuit are shocking, even for a township staff that has mounted a blight reduction campaign for several years.


A condemned unit at the complex.

Tom Perkins | For

Residents say maintenance workers have been painting the exterior and spreading mulch throughout the complex since the lawsuit was filed, but they and township officials aren't impressed.

“It’s like putting lipstick on a pig,” said Mike Radzik, director of the office of community standards. “There are core life safety problems, and (management) thinks they are solved if the buildings look nice on the outside.”

Edward Collazo recently noticed a wall in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend is bulging and going soft because of standing water in the neighboring apartment.

“They don’t do nothing except fix the outside so (the court) don’t shut them down,” said Collazo, who has a range of issues in his apartment he says management hasn’t fixed or was slow to address. “They’re out there painting instead of fixing my wall that’s about to bust out.”

The apartment next door to Collazo’s was recently ordered vacated by a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge at an emergency hearing.

Ypsilanti Township building officials were called there by the tenant.

The hardware that controls the water in the bathtub had fallen out and the tenants were turning water in the shower on and off with a large pair of pliers. When they did it turn on, it spewed water through the wall into an adjacent bedroom, where a puddle had formed in the carpet.

An extension cord plugged into the wall in the bedroom ran through the wall where the water was shooting. That cord led to a basement crawl space, where it was spliced into another cord that led to the hot water heater, which created a serious fire hazard.

Additionally, the large front window to the apartment was only a plexiglass sheet that had been partially melted when a car was set on fire in the parking lot about 10 feet away.

Now the problem also belongs to Collazo as the standing water in the empty apartment deteriorates the wall.

And it’s not the first issue Collazo and his girlfriend have had there. Mold is growing in their bathroom, the crawl space below their home is flooded, their windows do not fit in the frames correctly and his 4 year-old daughter’s bedroom window was nailed shut by the maintenance staff until township officials requested the nails be removed, Collazo said.

Collazo and his girlfriend plan to move out when their lease is up at the end of the year.

In several court documents, township officials charged there are a variety of issues including serious electrical and fire hazards, windows that don’t fit, serious plumbing problems, broken windows, trash littering the property, rotting door and window frames, windows nailed shut, non-functioning fire alarms, mold, general decay and more.

Rent at the complex ranges from $395 to $450 per month, and Radzik said some of the residents are unable to afford higher rent at a better complex.

Jennifer Brown said her rent was just raised after the old building manager left. The doors and doors don’t fit, she said. She has issues with her deteriorating plumbing fixtures and said the tile in her floor is breaking apart.

Brown, who has lived there for a year with her 6-year-old son, said her heater doesn’t work and she “froze” all last winter. She said management told her to open her oven when she requested it be repaired.

Brown said she put in more than 30 maintenance requests but most have gone ignored. She said she has tried to talk to Stewart Beal but he always directs her to someone else.

“It’s unreal. They don’t want to fix anything,” she said.

Brown also said complaints go on a waiting list, and maintenance workers have tried to charge her if she sees them at the complex and asks for help.

Shannon Herrington lives several doors down from Brown and also said maintenance people have tried to charge residents to fix problems that are Beal’s responsibility.

While the sewage line was broken, she and her boyfriend couldn’t use the toilets and their bathtub would back up. They had to use neighbors’ bathrooms and shower at their parents' homes.

But she said the maintenance people have changed their attitude since the township filed its lawsuit.

“All of a sudden they’re coming around all nice asking if there’s anything we need fixed,” she said.

Herrington's lease is up soon and she plans to move.

“They even had the nerve to ask if I wanted to renew my lease,” she said.

Radzik said a fresh coat of paint is low on the township’s priorities for the complext.

“It breaks my heart to see small children living around these conditions,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to get the complex brought up to code and minimally safe. And request some kind of ongoing maintenance so it doesn’t fall back into extreme disrepair.”

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Fat Bill

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

It appears that Beal is carrying the torch for David Kircher, the infamous Ypsilanti landlord who is still serving time. Maybe Beal can defy a few court orders and he can share a cell. Better yet, put both of them under house arrest in one of the Riley Court substandard units...


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

No one should have to live in conditions such as these. I hope the township is able to get some fast, permanent resolutions to these issues.


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

We always do unlike some certain city next door to us.


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Raw Sewage. "Precisely as intended."


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 4:15 a.m.

Do I smell just a wee bit of investigative journalism? Bravo.


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 2:10 a.m.

As with any project Ann Arbor tends to shy away from, Ypsi township will have that thing down within a year. Although we still have issues with that place over off of Rawsonville.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 5:12 a.m.

You are referring to Liberty Square. They are taking bids to demolish it and there are reportedly county funds to support the demolition as well. Ypsilanti Township is allegedly supporting a private company purchasing the land to put in a for profit sports complex because there are so many people in the area who can afford it and they will enjoy the direct competition from the new Water Street recreation complex.

Tonya Mccune-kilburn

Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

What a shame! This place should be condemned in this condition and the residents should be awarded money to find new housing! Doesn't section 8 have strict policies on where it allows their clients to live? I mean come on, imagine the smell these people have to live with on top of everything else! I would not care about breaking a lease with this place! Fight it in court! Get your kids out of there! I have visited this place in the past and it is a dump and rather scary! This slum lord should be ordered to live there until the apartments are up to code and in livable conditions while paying for the tenants to stay in a hotel! Bet he would get the jobs done then!

Rob B

Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

I worked for Stewart Beal as a subcontractor when they had the AnnArbor affordable housing maintenance account a year or so ago. Their workmanship and work ethics were so deplorable I refused to put my license on the line and quit after only three weeks and gave the master keys directly to an AnnArbor affordable supervisor with a few cautionary words- Beal didnt even call me back for a month to inquire about the keys!

Jonathan Blutarsky

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Expect this article to be brought up whenever someone states "There is no need for public housing"....


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Um, lists this property as being for those eligible for HVC Section 8 voucher assistance. That means: "What are housing choice vouchers? The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market." Looks like the government is attempting to address a problem which exists (notably) in the "private housing sector." And it also looks like private (entrepreneurial) participants (i.e. "landlords") aren't holding up to their end of the deal. Notice how the idea of vouchers is brought up whenever some right wing ideologue speaks: they want "help" doing the right thing while operating in a "market" based primarily on ambition and greed. They GET the help, then still can't get around to providing a product (safe, clean, affordable housing) they CLAIM the Market always provides (as if by magic). There are private foundations which fund such efforts - but in the end they seem to be only publicity facades to give the impression that rich people are all generous, kind and compassionate (once they've made their 100 lifetimes fortunes). The Ann Arbor Housing Commission seems to have a somewhat better program (based on HUD rules): providing reduced space housing at rates which are determined on the basis of tenant income. Rates are adjusted in cases where the tenant's income fluctuates year-to-year. Most of the housing units I've seen seem to be well maintained and there are controls and maintenance sufficient to maintain at least acceptable (or should it be called " survivable"?) levels of safe, affordable, crime-free living. Just saying: it seems this tale of two cities involves some kind of breakdown in one city (Ypsi), when the same government program works in one but not the other.


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

The difference is that this is complex is privately owned. The owner will accept tenants with a HUD housing voucher (Housing Choice or Section 8) and it will also accept tenants paying the rent he's charging ($395 to $450).


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 8:10 a.m.

Not a tale of two cities.....the complex is located in Ypsilanti Township.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

Sounds like Beal is a great Democrat! Being buddies with Ypsilanti City Council & Mayor and a slum lord!


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

Maybe it should be looked into as a resettlement camp for some of Greater Saline's disgruntled youth in a "Scared Straight" sort of situation, at least if the authorities deem any of them still salvageable.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 8 p.m.

How is this Ann Arbor news? This place is almost two miles east of Ypsilanti. Anything going on in Temperance that Ann Arbor residents should care about?


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Why so negative GoNavy? People are ALWAYS complaining about Here's a suggestion stop reading the website if it makes you so angry.


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

@Navy, get real. @Jack Campbell, it's Ypsi Twp.

Jack Campbell

Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Ypsi, land of milk and honey.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

You must get REALLY upset when the Wall Street Journal covers a company that's headquartered on Broadway.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

Kyle- If this is the case, perhaps a better title to the paper would be "," right? Just as I don't read about every college in Washtenaw when I read The Michigan Daily, I'm not interested in the goings-on of every township in the region either. PS Thank you for noticing that, like the area two miles east of Ypsilanti, Temperance is also not in Ann Arbor.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

GoNavy- Although Ann Arbor is our central focus we do cover news across Washtenaw county. FYI-Temperance is Monroe


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

I am providing a link for Tenants Rights to Repairs Tenants do have rights, proper measures can and should be taken.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

Wow, issues with Beal. I'm so shocked.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

And you know that Beal would come after these tenants to collect on 'rent due' from broken leases if the tenants moved out before their leases were up...for shame! Beal would be quick to act on that, but not at all to provide decent places to live for these tenants in exchange for rent $$ Who said leases only work one way? Pay up and take what you get? These tenants need REAL help from the township to overcome these hazardous living conditions and get places fit for habitation in exchange for their rent $$!!!

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Where is Riley Court in Ypsilanti Township?


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

Kyle.....saying that it's by the airport is kinda of a stretch.It is by but only " as a crow flies "

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

Elaine- Its off of Michigan Ave by Willow Run airport.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

i just added a map.