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Allan

Flint, Genesee County spar over run-down property

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Well, while it's a little late to say that Genesee County brought the city into the slums, I agree with him. This happens a lot in Lansing, but it seems that the city owns many of the vacant properties and land and don't keep them up.

Just last month a lot that had been empty for years stop having it's grass cut by the former owners since they defaulted on the property. The City said that they didn't own the land and would do nothing to keep it up. It turns out that they did own the land, and finally cut the overgrown grass on the lot.

The excuse that there are "too many properties" is a horrible excuse. Residents should not have to live next to these places...period. And people wonder why many are leaving our cities.

Don may be a loud mouth, but at least he's bringing attention to an policy that needs the attention, even if he's doing it abrasively.

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"Just last month a lot that had been empty for years stop having it's grass cut by the former owners since they defaulted on the property. The City said that they didn't own the land and would do nothing to keep it up. It turns out that they did own the land, and finally cut the overgrown grass on the lot."

The city government could easily address the problem of out of control foilage growth by having the city cut the grass, trim the trees, etc. and bill the owner of the property. I was going to write that the city government could also create an incentive for residents that maintain the properties of delinquent property owners but on second thought that just passes responcibilty for the care of the property away from the owners. Isn't there such a thing as the use of eminent domain for urban revitalization?

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That's exactly what happened (accept that it turned out the city did own the land). But the point is that the neighbor of the vacant land had to call hassle the city for months before she got in contact with the local weekely alternative newspaper before they did something about it. Neighbors shouldn't have to make multiple calls and pleas for the city to take care of their property.

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I completely agree with you, people should not have to "harass" the city to do what it's there for. I guess my question would be what kind of system is in charge of running day to day Flint? Is there a large, counter productive bureaucracy getting in the way or is it that the staff to do the work is not adequate for the amount of work?

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Now, that's a great question. It could very well be that Genesee County doesn't have the resources to take care of all of the defaulted lots and properties that automatically fall upon their table. I'd be interested to see if there is any backlog, or is it simply a lazy bureaucracy not doing it's job. I know that's what it is in Lansing since we don't have that many city-owned vacant lots and decrepit properties to worry about.

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Lazyness is almost always it, whether it's private or public property, In Lansing there are very few city-owned abandoned houses or lots, and those seem to be the ones maintained the least. This problem is not new, cities don't even properly maintain their parks, let alone abanded lots or houses.

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Well, this program didn't really start until a few years ago. The department was created in 1999, but I believe they still had to wait some time after that to actually foreclose anything under the new laws.

I've seen houses with "Property of the Land Bank" signs on them. Some of them get demolished and some of them actually get refurbished (the Land Bank Center is one of those properties). It's not like this is a wealthy county. I'm not exactly sure how Williamson expects them to take on thousands of properties in a few years and have them all demolished or refurbished already. It's a lot easier for the county government to transfer titles to the city when it needs them as opposed to getting clear title and locating landlords or even going through emminent domain.

But, I don't want to take sides because I don't know all of the facts. I'd like to see the actual number of buildings and lots the Land Bank owns and how many have been sold, refubished, or demolished.

I'm also unclear about Williamson's actual complaint. Is he suing because the lots aren't well maintained, or is it because they aren't demolishing buildings fast enough?

Maybe the Land Bank should put a phone number on their signs so neighbors can voice their concerns about certain properties.

(I've been on and off the computer for a couple hours adding a sentence or two at a time, so please excuse any grammitical errors :wacko: )

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He's probably threatening the sue for a little bit of both, though even one of those reasons would be enough if he has a legal leg to stand on. I don't know. I seem to like Williamson's style. It's a little "in your face," but Flint is much more in need of someone like that than a passive leader. The last thing Flint, or any declining city, needs now is a leader that's not aggresive enough to tough talk and even tougher actions.

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I agree that Flint doesn't need a passive leader. I like a lot of what Williamson brings to the table. It just gets annoying after a while when every single thing leads to public bashing and lawsuits (not always from him).

It is a little hypocritical. Last year the county ended up filing a lawsuit against the city because the county did over $1 million in demolition work for the city and Williamson refused to pay it.

That doesn't mean he doesn't have a case, though. This isn't simply trivial like what we've seen in the past from him and even moreso the council. Hopefully they can work this out without going to court. The city and county desperately need to start working together. We don't need any reactionary lawsuits/conflicts coming from the outcome.

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Here's the county's response. They say the city is free to take over the properties if it wants (but, not in such a nice way).

http://www.mlive.com/news/fljournal/index....6190.xml&coll=5

I didn't think the county was doing as bad as Williamson made it seem since Genesee County's land bank is used as a model for many other cities' land banks. I think this is going to become a stalemate and things will go on as they have been - except with the county being more responsive to the citizens' concerns (I'm hoping).

It would be nice if the city took some of the properties on the 3rd Ave corridor of the county's hands and tried to get some developers sold on the river district/University Drive plan.

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