by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
On Monday, March 6, the Durand City Council conducted the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would designate blighted areas for the purpose of seeking state resources for redevelopment. New Durand City Manager Colleen O’Toole gave an overview of the ordinance in her first public appearance as city manager.
In one of several initial acts aimed at targeting economic development, O’Toole explained the ordinance by saying, “I have identified certain spots in the city that, I think, are appropriate to identify as blight and then pursue redevelopment resources through the MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation). The first step in doing that, obviously, is to actually define what blight is in our ordinance.”
After identifying blighted areas, the city can then seek Community Development Block Grants and other sources of funding that may be available for preservation, conservation, improvements, and redevelopment.
The proposed ordinance uses standard language borrowed from the MEDC to identify exactly what constitutes blight. Per the proposed ordinance, “Public improvements are in a general state of deterioration in the designated area, or a substantial number of buildings in the designated area are deteriorated or deteriorating, and at least 25 percent of the properties in the area have one or more of the following characteristics: Physical deterioration of buildings or improvements, abandonment of properties, chronic high turnover or vacancy rates in commercial/industrial buildings, significant decline in property values or abnormally low property values in relation to other areas in the city, or known or suspected environmental contamination.”
The City Council will conduct a second reading of the proposed ordinance during its Monday, April 3 meeting. The council would then vote on the matter before it is officially included in the City of Durand Code of Ordinances.