FLINT (WJRT) (6/6/2018) - Flint is trying to clean up its appearance with two programs announced by Mayor Karen Weaver's office.
A new Blight Hearings Bureau working out of City Hall will be tasked with helping clean up the significant amount of abandoned and poorly maintained properties in the city.
Local attorney Torchio Feaster has been hired to manage the grant-funded department. He will serve as the city's blight administrative hearings officer.
“We want our city to thrive and be a nice and safe place to live, work and play," Weaver said. "My hope is that the addition of this Blight Hearings Bureau will be a vehicle to help us build on the progress we’ve been making in this area.”
The city's Blight Elimination Division has been up and running for about five years with staff enforcing property maintenance codes. They work with neighborhood safety officers in all nine of Flint's wards.
Typical violations include tall grass, weeds, rubbish in yards and nuisances.
However, they have lacked a formal process to force compliance when property owners refuse to cooperate. Feaster will host hearings and enforce the city's property maintenance code.
“I am excited to be involved in this new role,” said Feaster. “I think the addition of the Blight Hearings Bureau will be a good thing for the city of Flint and its residents. I am glad to be able to use my experience and knowledge of the law to assist in Flint’s recovery.”
The blight hearings could begin within a couple weeks after property owners being issued violation notices this week have a chance to respond. Property owners will have a chance to argue against any blight tickets they receive.
First time violators will have the opportunity to avoid penalties by quickly addressing the violation cited for and cleaning up the area of concern.
Failure to clean up the mess could result in a violation, which carries up to a $200 fine for a third offense, and additional fees to reimburse the city for cleanup.
Failure to pay fines and fees could result in a lien on the property or wage garnishment.
“We are working to make the City of Flint better on all fronts,” said Weaver. “We are listening to the concerns of residents, and the new Blight Hearings Bureau and Hearing Officer is a result of that. Progress is being made in Flint.”
In addition, the city is paying residents on Saturday to drop of used tires laying around Flint. Residents will receive $1 for every tire brought in with a maximum reward of $25.
The event is open only to Flint city residents and proof of residency will be verified. Only tires from cars and pickup trucks will be accepted.
Tires can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Environmental Rubber Recycling at 6515 N. Dort Highway.