Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) praised passage of a package of bills that would give cities more power to fight blight occurring in their neighborhoods. The five-bill package had the bipartisan sponsorship from Senators Smith, Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton), Tupac A. Hunter (D-Detroit), and Bert Johnson (D-Highland Park).

“I’m tired of the blight that blemishes our city. Property owners must be held accountable for the upkeep of their property and their responsibility to their neighbors,” said Senator Smith. “One blighted property can bring down an entire neighborhood. I have worked carefully with all parties to craft legislation that will give Detroit and other cities the ability to deal with this problem quickly.”

“I support giving municipalities the tools they need to clean up neighborhoods and improve the business climate,” said Senator Jones.

The bills, Senate Bills 1096-1100, would make it a misdemeanor to fail to comply with a blight violation and allow for violators to be prosecuted in district court. Cities would save money by streamlining the lien process to ensure payment of judgments against blight violators as well as streamline the garnishment procedure on owners who do not pay the fines following their appeal. The legislation would also discourage blight by prohibiting cities from issuing zoning or building permits to anyone with a blight violation.

“Blight is a major issue facing our communities as abandoned and decaying homes lower surrounding property values, provide havens for criminal activity and squatters and even pose safety risks,” said Senator Hunter. “I am pleased to cosponsor this package of legislation to allow our communities to act quickly to address blight and clean up our neighborhoods, and I will continue to work in the Legislature to prevent foreclosure, reform our tax foreclosure auctions and help keep our neighborhoods vibrant and thriving.”

“I hear far too many complaints from people about the blight in their neighborhoods. Negligent owners let their properties decay even as they continue to purchase more property. If you fail or refuse to take care of what you already own, you shouldn’t be allowed to acquire more,” said Senator Johnson. “This is a good first step to giving our cities the tools they need to clean our neighborhoods. Hopefully these bills can move quickly through the House and to the Governor’s desk.”

“Blight poses a risk to all of our communities around the state, and I am pleased that we can work together to pass this important legislation to protect our residents and improve our neighborhoods,” said Senator Schuitmaker.