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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Beating blight: Michigan lawmaker says cities need to get tough

TIF mismanagement can lead to blight.
Flickr.com

A Michigan state senator says cities need tougher laws against owners of blighted properties.

A national report found nearly a quarter of all Detroit properties were blighted in 2011.

State Sen. Virgil Smith has proposed bills to hold the landowners accountable for razing or repairing their properties.

"At closing, if you're trying to sell the piece of property, just like a water bill or property tax bill, that blight bill will also be there that you have to make whole," Smith says.

Violators would face fines, garnished wages and property liens.

Smith  estimates about half the blighted properties in Detroit are bank-owned. But banks could be exempted from the law.

"I'm in a Republican-dominated world, so they're amenable to big business, so to speak. Sometimes you have to make concessions and compromise," Smith says.

Smith says in the next two weeks, Wells-Fargo is expected to talk about its blighted properties with the city of Detroit.