DETROIT – Detroit is cracking down on businesses along the riverfront, handing out hundreds of violations and nearly $200,000 in fines earlier this year to companies operating out of compliance.
Local 4 Defender Karen Drew did some digging to see where things stand in the Detroit Riverfront crackdown
Late in 2019, a dock collapsed into the Detroit River and spilled contaminated soil into the river. After that, it was discovered the company had been operating without a certificate of compliance. That has since been corrected.
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The Detroit River is a gem of the city, but officials want to make sure everyone is treating it the right way.
“I think in years gone by, the city has had a laissez faire attitude,” attorney Lawrence Garcia said. “If there were not problems, you didn’t hear from the city, and we are trying to be much more proactive because it’s the best way to ensure the safety of property and environment.”
In early 2020, city officials issued 152 correction orders and 975 tickets to riverfront businesses and lots.
Checking records, city officials said 134 of the riverfront properties cited are still in violation of the city code.
The total amount potentially associated with violations would be $468,650. Until the matters are solved in court, the penalties are not yet owed.
“That’s the amount that is potentially due in owing if they lose the case, and our batting average is pretty good,” Garcia said. “We give you a code violation ticket, odds are you are going to wind up ending the full penalty under the code.”
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The violations include certificates of compliance needed, permits needed for outside storage and an engineer report needed for a seawall. The violations are at a variety of riverfront businesses.
An email provided to the Defenders by the city with addresses of some of the top violators revealed to the companies that they had permits that were missing.
The city has a heightened code enforcement approach to the riverfront since the sinkhole at 5851 West Jefferson Avenue.
Meanwhile, the location that started the crackdown -- Revere Dock -- is now in compliance after months of back-and-forth with the city, officials told Local 4.
Revere Dock followed demands placed on it by the court for corrections.
“Revere Dock has come along in addressing the problem they ought to address,” Garcia said.
While there are still violations that exist, city officials said they don’t think this is a burning issue that’s threatening the safety of the property or the environment.
Revere Dock update
Here is an update from a Revere Dock spokesperson on where the situation stands:
A. SUBMIT A BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION FOR USE OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY FOR OUTDOOR STORAGE: Completed. Submitted June 16 which was first date the city system would allow submittal.
B. SUBMIT A CERTIFICATE OF OPERATION FOR BULK MATERIAL STORAGE APPLICATION: Completed. Due August 7 but submitted June 22.
C. SUBMIT A BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION FOR THE EXISTING ASPHALT PAD: Completed. Due by June 23. Submitted on June 16. Note the city also had a 2016 pending permit application for the pad. So now they have 2 permit applications for the same thing,
D. OBTAIN GEOTECHNICAL REPORT: Completed. Due June 23. Submitted March 30.
E. SUBMIT COPY OF BANK RESTORATION PLAN required to be submitted to EGLE. Completed. Due May 14. Submitted March 30.
F. SUBMIT BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION FOR BANK RESTORATION: Completed. Copies of the permit applications to EGLE and USACE were submitted to BSEED concurrently with EGLE and USACE. Additionally, BSEED receives the weekly updates of work on the site, including the permit application status. On June 16, EGLE held a public hearing for the permit. The public comment period ended June 26, 2020.
Tonja Stapleton, on behalf of Revere Dock, asked Dave Bell, BSEED Director what permit BSEED wanted Revere Dock to apply for pursuant to the order. Mr. Bell indicated to her that no City of Detroit permit is required for the work. Thus, this requirement has been met.
G. COMPLETE BANK RESTORATION: Revere Dock will once it gets permits. Construction will take 6 months.
H. PAYMENT: Revere Dock shall pay Plaintiff, City of Detroit, $63,000.00 in a single lump sum. Completed. Payment was made prior to the order being entered.
In addition to the above, the city, EGLE, and EPA get weekly status reports from Revere Dock