Saginaw will fight the scourge of the historic district with an ordinance change

SAGINAW, MI – Homes and buildings in Saginaw’s historic neighborhoods that may seem overlooked or neglected will see renovations after an ordinance change approved by the Saginaw City Council.

The Saginaw Zoning Code subsection (Title XV, Chapter 153, Historic Districts, §153.543) designated by council as “negligent demolition” for Historic District Properties was approved to expand from what read as a single line of text on Oct. 24 to a comprehensive outline of damages that city inspectors and the Historic District Commission will be looking for.

Updates included in the change also added the language outlining how soon homeowners should complete repairs, a process homeowners can follow to dispute an inspection, and what they would face if a problem is not corrected.

Of the damages or negligence listed in the order, inspectors will primarily look for those parts of the properties which respectively cannot safely support their imposed loads.

Another thing inspectors will look for are parts of the property that could fall and injure people or property, much like bricks that have fallen into the pavement from properties near Genessee and Weadock Avenues.

Outside of structural observances, overgrown landscaping features or landscaping features that endanger the public or historic property will also be considered neglect under the new ordinance.

Councilman Bill Ostash, who resigned from the Saginaw Historic District Commission in 2018 and lives in one of the districts in question, said the changes were proposed by the Commission to highlight areas that need a review. pay attention and try to retain those who ignore them. responsible properties.

“If it’s in the local jurisdiction of the historic district, the Historic District Commission can start working on some of the issues,” Ostash said. “I can’t speak for them, but it’s something they asked us to have the city attorney look into. They worked with us on that.

Ostash said that while “negligent demolition” was previously in the ordinance code and state law, there was never really a process for entities to handle a situation.

He said the changes not only gave a historic district resident or business owner due process, but gave a system to help the two unique historic entities like Potter Street Station, the Temple Theater , the Saginaw Armory and neighborhoods like Heritage Square, the Northeast Corridor and the business district of Old Town Saginaw.

If a property is found in violation of the new language of the ordinance, the owner will have 30 days to correct the problem(s) in question.

After those 30 days, if the issue(s) are not resolved, the owner will face a documented public hearing.

During this hearing, the owner can plead their case as to why the commission should not find their property in violation. If an agreement cannot be reached, the owner could be required to repair the property or face civil infractions.

The commission or its agents may then be able to enter the property and carry out the necessary repairs to prevent demolition, but any costs associated with the work would be charged to the owner with costs levied as a special assessment on the property .

These offenses and any decision made by the commission under the order may be appealed in circuit court within 20 days of service of their decision or order.

The ordinance’s language changes come into effect on November 3.

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