Ordinance makes tracking land owners easier

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – A new city ordinance seeks to fight blighted properties by making their owners easier to track down.

The ordinance, which passed unanimously Tuesday, requires owners of vacant properties to register them with the city to avoid fines.

The ordinance makes it easier to locate owners of blighted properties by requiring them to register the properties up front so officials don’t have to perform a deed check, a process that could be costly and time consuming for the city, especially when the properties are bank owned, City Attorney Todd Flood said.

“If I want to sue in circuit court under the nuisance abatement theory, a lot of times what I have to do is a deed check, and often times I’m jumping through hurdles to find out who owns that property,” he said.

Councilman Francesco Tucci said he did not agree with the ordinance applying to vacant lots, as he did not want to deter people from buying them by adding fees.

City Administrator David Tamsen said the ordinance applied to vacant lots and structures in commercial districts.

“If I bought a house and I bought the lot next to me too, that’s not considered a vacant lot because it’s part of my property,” Tamsen said. “What we’re talking about is if you’ve got a lot in the middle of a commercial district that nothing has been built on and someone ignores that, we want to be able to know who owns this lot and go after them to get it cleaned up. That’s the purpose of this ordinance.”

Councilwoman Tina Gaworecki, who was sworn in at the meeting, asked the council who would enforce the ordinance, as the city has been without an ordinance officer for some time.

Tamsen responded that an ordinance officer has just been hired and the building department also will assist in enforcing the ordinance.

Flood said the ordinance, modeled after one in Woodhaven, provides consequences and speed in fighting blighted structures.

“The purpose is to make sure we can go after those people who don’t maintain those properties,” he said. “I want to hold someone accountable and I don’t want to waste time doing it.”