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State Bills Would Fight Blight With Stiffer Penalties

May 22 2012 | no comments

State Senator Virgil Smith of Detroit has introduced a package of bills designed to fight blight in Michigan cities.

State Senator Smith calls blight one of the major hurdles which creates an obstacle to living and investing in Detroit.

On his website, Smith says “I’m sick and tired of the blight in my city, and after researching the problem I realized that we need to give Detroit and other cities throughout Michigan the ability to go after bad actors.”

The bills are SB 1096 – 1100 and will:

  • Clarify that failure to comply with a Department of Administrative Hearing judgement can be classified as a misdemeanor and prosecuted at district court.
  • Save cities money by streamlining the lien process to ensure payment of judgements against blight violators.
  • Attempt to streamline the garnishment procedure on owners who do not pay the fines following their appeal.
  • Prohibit citries from issuing zoning approval to anyone with a blight violation and
  • Prohibit cities from issuing building permits to anyone with a blight violation.

The bills call for possible jail time for property owners fail to comply with a second blight citation.  A third time offender could be jailed for  up to a years.  The legislation also would expedite the process of placing liens on blighted property and prohibit those with outstanding blight violations from obtaining building and zoning permits on other property.

The bills will go to the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Senator Rick Jones.  The bills have bipartisan support, with Senators Smith, Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton), Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit), and Bert Johnson (D-Highland Park) each sponsoring a bill.

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