Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Detroit is Serious in Fight Against Blight

Detroit unveiled a promising step in its fight against blight this morning - it announced the creation of a new department whose sole existence is to stop dumpers and neglectful property owners from dirtying the city.

The new action team - named the Department of Administrative Hearings - will open its doors Tuesday, January 4, 2005, and will begin exercising its new authority: hunting down property owners of below-code residences and buildings, as well as the infamous dumpers of the Motor City, and bringing civil penalties against them.

With the power to fine violators up to $10,000 for each infraction, the Department of Administrative Hearings has made it clear that Detroit will no longer put up with blight. Those served with blight notices will be required to attend a scheduled hearing in front of the department sometime 14-30 days after being given the notice. Those violators that choose to ignore notices will then be considered default.

Although the department has yet to open, this article in today's Free Press online edition quoted the department's director as estimating the number of hearings per year at 70,000. Currently, the number of blight violators that are prosecuted is approximately 50 per month, or 600 per year. The current system criminally prosecutes violators and is the responsibility of the Detroit Police Department.

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