Blight court judge tackles backlog of violations in Flint under new program

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FLINT (WJRT) - (07/27/18) - We first told you about the city's new Administrative Hearings Bureau (AHB) a few weeks ago. It's the department responsible for preventing and eliminating blight.

In just a few short weeks the AHB has had 155 hearings and collected $4,000 from blight violators, but with thousands of backlogged tickets, this new department still has a lot more on its plate.

"I believe those tickets are in the 7,000 range - 7,000 number of complaints going back from 2018 to 2013," said attorney T.W. Feaster, administrative hearing officer.

At least 7,000 outstanding citations since 2013 is a huge undertaking for Feaster who, thanks to a state grant, is Flint's blight court judge.

"There's actually some muscle and an arm for enforcement and following up on those violations," Feaster said.

And he's already resolved some of those problems.

"We're getting a great response actually, surprising. We've had about 155 different hearings. We've had a great turnout by the majority of our residents," Feaster said.

As you'd probably expect, a lot of the violators are repeat offenders. While others may receive fines starting at $25 dollars, those who refuse to clean up their property for whatever reason, have more serious consequences.

"Those are the more difficult cases and what happens with those is we go to the formal hearing process," Feaster said.

It's similar to a trial and can result in a lien on the property or even wage garnishment.

"Our goal is not to make a fortune for the city. Our goal is to make it so that when a resident comes out their house everyday that they don't have to see a house overgrown by weeds or boarded up and falling over. I believe those things have a negative impact on people's psyches and feel like they live in an abandoned town," Feaster said.

You can contact the AHB clerk at 810-766-7146.

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