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Flint's Carriage Town neighborhood weighs proposal to shrink its historic district

Jan 16, 2015

Carriage Town neighbors in Flint are divided by more than fences these days.

Blighted and restored homes sit side by side in Flint's Carriage Town neighborhood
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposal to shrink the size of the neighborhood's historic district has pitted neighbor against neighbor.  

The neighborhood is just north of downtown Flint.   Many of the homes and buildings in the neighborhood pre-date the city’s auto industry. The neighborhood gets its name from Flint’s late 1800’s carriage manufacturing business.

The neighborhood now is a unique collection of restored and blighted homes.

Last year, a panel appointed by Flint’s emergency manager delivered a report recommending the size of the Carriage Town historic district be scaled back. 

Tim Monahan is a Carriage Town homeowner and a member of the panel.  

He says blighted homes must be razed to protect the rest of the century-old homes in the neighborhood.

“Carriage Town itself might actually be a much more stable neighborhood if we cut this cancerous side off,” says Monahan. 

But others disagree that shrinking the district by 10 blocks is a good way to preserve the neighborhood.

Homeowner Heather Burnash was another member of the panel. She did not sign off on the preliminary report delivered last year. She says the proposal doesn’t take into account the objections of various historic preservation and neighborhood groups.

“I don’t feel like the process was adequate,” says Burnash. 

Other people at the public hearing say the city needs to do a better job enforcing historic district ordinances against property owners who have allowed buildings in the district to become dilapidated. 

The panel that delivered the preliminary report must now craft a final report. 

But after that, the next step is unclear.