Blight Beat: Judge orders demolition of 2 more deteriorating Ypsilanti Township trailer parks
Two more troubled Ypsilanti Township trailer parks soon will be a bad memory for the township.
Owners of two parks had walked away from them in February as they lost the properties to tax foreclosure. That left the parks’ residents - many of whom were financially unable to relocate - living in seriously deteriorating conditions.
Since then, the Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office has been paying utilities for residents in the parks at 2590 E. Michigan Ave. and the other is at 117 S. Harris Road, just south of the Ford Boulevard bridge over East Michigan Avenue.
On July 16, Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Donald Shelton gave an emergency order authorizing the township to demolish all the remaining mobile homes in each park and clear the land of any structures or utility infrastructure. The parks were owned by WOC Realty.
At its July 23 meeting, the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a request by township staff to seek bids on the jobs, which are estimated at close to $100,000 for both.
"It's just a real mess and a real problem, which is why we went to court," Mike Radzik, director of the township's office of community standards, told the board.
All residents have been relocated and the properties were in the Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office foreclosure auction. Neither property sold, and now they will go to the no-minimum-bid auction in August.
Township officials said they were often unable to determine which trailers were inhabited and which were abandoned as they monitored the situation throughout the past six months. Many of the trailers had been gutted and torn apart by scrap metal thieves, and one had its roof completely torn off.
Washtenaw County Sheriff County deputies regularly respond to situations at the park, as recently as July 22. Officials said a fire was started by squatter earlier in the year, and they feared that the park could continue to attract more squatters.
One unit in particular on the Michigan Avenue property was packed with garbage from floor to ceiling throughout much of the trailer, and garbage was spilling out the front door in February.
Later that month, officials received a report that the drinking water at the Michigan Avenue park was contaminated.
Ypsilanti Township Attorney Doug Winters expressed anger with how the mobile home parks’ owners handled the situation. He called some of the trailers “death traps” and said the conditions at the parks were attracting scrap thieves and other criminals.
“They showed no regard for human welfare or the residents' well-being,” Witners said.
The order also allows the township to send the cleanup bill to WOC Realty.
“We’re going to get the parks cleaned up but at the same time hold the owners responsible,” Winters said.
Winters said it was the first time he had seen a local municipality and county treasurer working together on such a situation and questioned why the state continues to fail in overseeing mobile home park owners.
"Someone has to hold the mobile home park commission accountable," he said. "You can't just have mobile home parks with no oversight when these things implode."
The township also is closely monitoring a third trailer park.
In January, Wasthenaw County Circuit Judge Archie Brown ordered Greenbriar Mobile Home Park owner Gerald Burton to remove the abandoned trailers from the park, located at 2500 Holmes Road between Holmes and East Michigan Avenue, by Feb. 25.
Winters said the owner of that park has complied and the park remains in operation, though many trailers were cleared.