2011-11-24 / News

Twp. discusses mowing for Land Bank properties

BY AMANDA BRANIECKI 810-452-2647  abraniecki@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC TWP. — The possible budget cuts facing the Genesee County Land Bank has the Board of Trustees exploring its options for maintaining Land Bank owned properties in the coming year.

Grand Blanc Township Interim Manager Keith Edwards said he had received word that the Land Bank may not be able to mow the lawns of its properties for the upcoming 2012 year.

“I just wanted to provide you with some communication because there is some concern there,” Edwards said during the Nov. 8 meeting.

If budget restrictions prevent the Land Bank from mowing its properties, Edwards said the township could either let the grass grow or take on the responsibility of cutting the grass for a cost.

“It does impact the budget,” Edwards said, adding the funds are not currently in the budget for the service. “If we decided to mow the Land Bank’s property, there is next to no recourses to get the monies back.”

Currently, there are 185 Land Bank owned properties in the township with average mowing services costing about $45 per lot. The typical mowing season is April 15- Oct. 15.

“To maintain 185 properties, which that number could grow in 2012, could be in the range of $50-100,000 annually,” Edwards said.

Trustee Paul Bush said while he understands the money is not in the budget for the township to mow the lawns in the event the Land Bank cannot, he is concerned with how doing nothing with the properties will impact homeowners and their properties.

“We don’t have $100,000 to mow someone else’s property, but what kind of ramifications do we have for (homeowners) that don’t mow it,” Bush asked. “How can we enforce our ordinance (for homeowners) if these other people can do what they want?”

The township ordinance states that grass can be no taller than 8 inches. For those that do not follow the ordinance, the township will cut the lawn and recover the cost for their services on the homeowners tax bill, Township Attorney David Lattie said.

“We can proceed to recover costs from (homeowners in violation) by putting that on their tax roll and we’ll collect that money eventually,” Lattie said. “Land Bank property you can’t do that. It is community property instead of owned by any one person.”

If they decide to mow the lawns, Trustee Larry Anderson said he would like the township to use its judgment on which properties need mowing.

“I don’t know if all these properties justify being mowed on a weekly basis for the whole season,” Anderson said. “If a lot is in the middle of a subdivision surrounded by residential homes, then I’d like to maintain it more. If it is a commercial property in development that is a quarter finished and half is dirt and mud anyway, I am fine with letting that go.”

Genesee County Land Bank Director Doug Weiland said no decision on property maintenance had been made as of yet.

“We are in discussions still,” Weiland said. “The County Board of Commissioners had said they are not funding any property management for 2012, but we are still in discussions. So what we are able to do is still in question.”

Weiland said he hopes to have a decision made on whether or not they will mow the lawns in the next couple of months. Until then, the township will continue to explore its options — including possibly killing the grass on the properties — should they take on the task.

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