Muskegon Heights family frustrated with blighted property; city says it will go

Posted at 5:55 PM, Oct 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-28 17:55:46-04

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. -- Latoya Jackson is frustrated about the blighted property next to her grandmother's home on Sanford Street in Muskegon Heights.

“There’s so many animals in that house. You can see the movement in that house," she described.

Jackson said it stinks so bad in the summer her grandmother has to keep the windows closed. She said the home started taking a nosedive about 6 years ago, and she said she's complained to the city ever since.

“Nothing’s been done. We’ve had a problem with raccoons, mice, people dumping their trash there, people breaking in taking the water heater and other appliances. Nothing’s being done. Bad winter tore the garage down," she explained.

Jackson said someone even set the house on fire about a month ago, and it left a gaping hole in the back. She said her grandmother pays to have someone cut the grass at the blighted home.

“We need some answers. We need the house torn down because enough is enough," Jackson said.

So she reached out to FOX 17. We’ve learned the Muskegon County Land Bank now owns the property, and it’s changed hands several times over the past several years.

Meantime, the land bank is tearing down other homes in the neighborhood. FOX 17 left a message with the Muskegon Heights building inspector and visited city hall. Fire chief Christopher Dean said dozens of abandoned properties are being demolished as part of the Hardest Hit program through the Michigan State Development Housing Authority, using a $1.8 million federal grant.

Dean said 2212 Sanford didn’t make the first or second round of demolition because the county didn’t have control over the property until April, and it had to go to auction in August.

“Does the city wish we could have done this sooner? Absolutely. Is it on the list? Absolutely," the chief said.

Dean said the home is on a separate list and will be torn down with separate funds pooled together by the county land bank, Muskegon Community Foundation, Muskegon and Muskegon Heights. Dean showed FOX 17 documents proving the home was bid out for demolition weeks ago. He said the demolition will happen by December 1st.

FOX 17 relayed this information to Jackson who said this is news to her.

“If it gets torn down December 1st, you guys will be the first ones to know. If it doesn’t, you guys will be the first ones to know. We just hope that it’s some truth in it this time," Jackson said.

Dean said this is all a process. So even though the demolition company has the contract, they still have to wait at least 10 days to notify two other state departments for health and safety inspections.