House Local Government Holds Hearing on Blight Package

Today the House Local Government committee held testimony on SBs 35-39, a package of bills dealing with blighted properties.  These bills would:

  • Senate Bill 35 would allow cities that use administrative hearings bureau to adjudicate blight violations to establish additional civil and criminal penalties on a person who committed a blight violation and failed to pay a fine and costs of $1,000 or more. It would also lower the minimum population to be eligible to have an administrative hearings bureau from 2.0 million to 1.5 million for a county containing a city with a population of 3,300 or more. This bill also exempts financial institutions, credit unions and other governmental entities from the fines and penalties stated in the bill that other individuals would otherwise be subject to.
  • Senate Bill 36 would amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to allow a city zoning ordinance to provide that a person would be ineligible for rezoning, site approval, or other zoning authorization if the person were delinquent in paying a fine or costs for a blight violation. This bill also exempts financial institutions, credit unions and other governmental entities from the fines and penalties stated in the bill that other individuals would otherwise be subject to.
  • Senate Bill 37 would amend the Single State Construction Code Act to allow a city to provide by ordinance that a person would be ineligible for a building permit, certificate of use and occupancy, or a variance if the person were delinquent in paying a fine or costs for a blight violation. This bill also exempts financial institutions, credit unions and other governmental entities from the fines and penalties stated in the bill that other individuals would otherwise be subject to.
  • Senate Bill 38 would amend the Revised Judicature Act to allow a city to file a garnishment action if a fine or costs were ordered for a blight violation.
  • Senate Bill 39 would amend the Home Rule City Act to allow a lien against property involved in a blight violation to be foreclosed in a city’s administrative hearings bureau.

The League was joined by officials from the city of Jackson (Dan Greer, Bethany Smith, Dennis Diffenderfer), in testifying in opposition to the bills because of the exemptions for financial institutions, credit unions and governmental entities.  We absolutely appreciate the intent of the bill sponsors in trying to give more tools to local communities with Administrative Hearings Bureaus to deal with blight offenders but these exemptions carve out a large chunk of the blight offenders.  We look forward to working with the bill sponsors as this goes forward to address our issues.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate with the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org of 517-908-0305.

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