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Ahee

Closer eye on rentals


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September 13, 2012
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Joan Whitman got traction by appealing straight to the mayor about increased building code enforcement of rental properties in neighborhoods close to Mack.

"We do not want this area to become the Cabbage Patch of the Farms," Whitman said at the Monday, Sept. 10, city council meeting. "If these neighborhoods are not taken care of, what happens to the entire Grosse Pointe community?"

"You alerted us to a situation someone will probably take a look at," said Mayor James Farquhar.

He directed Terry Brennan, building inspector and head of public services, to "help out" Whitman.

"Rental property is inspected once every two years and/or upon change of occupancy," Brennan said.

With more than 4,000 properties in the Farms, the city welcomes residents' help identifying violations, according to Councilman Louis Theros.

"We have ordinances covering everything you mentioned," he told Whitman.

"A lot of it is somebody letting us know somebody is possibly illegally storing a car in a back yard on blocks."

Whitman also spoke about renters overtaxing municipal facilities.

She wants three corrective steps:

* restrict on-street parking,

* issue rules to landlords and renters about property care, parking and use of the city park, and

* post municipal ordinances online.

Whitman, a 40-year Pointe resident, lives on Belanger, part of the inland sewer district.

"We have concerns, and have had for several years, over changes in our neighborhood," Whitman said, claiming to represent 25 neighbors. "We've been concerned with the influx of residential property becoming rental property."

She considers the area between Mack and Charlevoix a "buffer zone."

"They are lovely, well-built homes," she said. "If one property goes, other properties go."

Occupants of a rental property with high turnover in her neighborhood park so many cars curbside they restrict traffic, block the Monday street sweeper and snow plow in winter, Whitman said.

"When you have several cars on the street, it makes it very hard to get around them," she said. "One car's been parked in back since they moved in."

One of the inland district's strengths is attracting young families to Grosse Pointe, Whitman said.

"If it's not taken care of, I don't feel young families will come here," she said.

"With an exclamation point, we will do what we can to make that the wonderful area it is," said City Manager Shane Reeside. "We are investing in that area of the community. All of our repaving program went to the inland district this year."

Sidewalks on Chalfonte and side streets are being improved, too, Reeside said.

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