Blight Beat: Ypsilanti Township asks for court help in clearing pole barn used as vagrant shelter
Ypsilanti Township officials aren’t sure exactly what an isolated pole barn and horse trailer off Merritt Road is being used for, but they do know it has become an issue with neighbors.
Among other complaints, neighbors living in the rural area near the structure allege "strange" people have knocked on their doors during the day and night looking for the structure. Neighbors also have seen people running naked through the woods around the property.
“Neighbors are complaining of strange visitors coming at all hours of the night looking for this place where there is only a pole barn,“ Mike Radzik, director of the township’s office of community standards, told the board of trustees before they unanimously approved staff taking legal action over the property.
"It existed under the radar for quite some time, but now it's drawing attention and we’re going after it."
Neighbors also complained of people sitting in cars “for hours on end” and they began to suspect that the property was being used for a meth lab. Law enforcement officials inspected the property and didn’t find a meth lab but did find buckets of human waste indicting that humans were using the barn and horse trailer for shelter.
Radzik said his department discovered that federal marshals had raided the property in 2008 looking for the owners - a husband and wife - on drug trafficking charges.
But township officials have been unable to locate the owners, whose last known address was in Oklahoma.
Township documents don’t show any record of permits or approvals for the barn, which was constructed in 1979. Township ordinance doesn’t allow an accessory structure to be built without approval.
“We’ve already exhausted our notices of violation, the owners have not responded, we can’t locate them, and this has to be cleaned be up for the benefit of the neighbors,” Radzik said.
The township will ask a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order the property cleared and allow the township to do so if the owners fail to comply with the orders.