Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer
The story begins with an absolute disaster of a property.
The property owner, actually the husband of the owner, liked to repair cars in the home’s backyard. I know, right away you’re thinking …“Geez, the guy’s just fixing a few cars to make some cash and maybe help his neighbors out – why is the City jumping in and making trouble?” Well, I think you will see why it was a problem.
This gentleman was fixing, bumping, painting, and welding cars and had the property, which was over an acre in size, filled with junk vehicles of every size and description. He was running loud compressors and bright spotlights to continue his business after dark. He even had the inevitable “J. Y. D.” – the dreaded Junk Yard Dog.
Neighbors started complaining to us back in 2002, but a tall privacy fence and the occasional cleanup kept investigators at bay. Without proof of wrong doing, the City could not take action. Finally in 2009, a brave neighbor living next door allowed us to witness the activity and take photos from his property, which helped us make a case that could be taken to Court. Our case was strengthened, when we received pictures from the Auburn Hills Police Department who were at the site assisting the Humane Society remove the sickly, undernourished J.Y.D.
Before a judge could act on the City’s tickets and request for clean-up, the house fell into mortgage foreclosure. Shortly after, a Court eviction order was executed by the Oakland County Sherriff’s Office to remove the car repairman from the premises. Using all channels possible, we were able to convince the bank to clean the property up and remove all the junk vehicles as part of the eviction process.
Several outbuildings were left in the backyard where he had done his painting, drying, welding, etc. These buildings were in various states of near collapse. With an emergency order from City Manager Auger, we contacted our best demolition contractor who made short work of the mess.
Even after all this, our work was not done. The neighborhood was left with a home not up to code and a huge piece of property going to waste. The house had been transferred from the bank to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that might have been the end of the story. Except, that another gentleman saw something worthwhile in the property. That’s were the story gets much better. Ultimately, a transformation took place that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
What I just described to you was a huge success for the City of Auburn Hills. But, it was only the beginning. Come back tomorrow for the other half of the story.