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Orr, Duggan want more properties to go to Detroit land bank

Sep 15, 2014

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council is slated to vote this week on a plan that would speed big city property transfers to the Detroit land bank.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr proposed the measure last week, allowing the city to transfer some city-owned properties directly to the land bank without Council approval.

It would move up to 45,000 tax-reverted properties to the Detroit land bank’s control, and convey any such land the city acquires in the future directly to the land bank.

Currently, the City Council has some say in how the city disposes of those properties.

But Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said that process “isn’t particularly efficient.”

“The properties have already been determined to be delinquent properties that are reverting back to the city anyway,” Nowling said. “So we don’t really think there needs to be that added step of going back through the process again with City Council.”

“They’re ultimately going to end up at the land bank, which Mayor [Mike] Duggan has said he wants to be the sole source for moving forward on blight remediation in the city,” Nowling added.

Duggan has moved swiftly to give the Detroit land bank a much greater role in the city’s larger blight-fighting and re-development strategy.

Even if Council rejects the plan, Orr can use his powers as emergency manager to push ahead with it anyway—though under the state’s emergency manager law, Council members could propose an alternative proposal.

The Council is already in the midst of that process after rejecting Orr’s proposal to transfer 301 city-owned properties to the land bank last week. That property transfer would pave the way for a new international bridge connecting Detroit and Canada.

Orr overrode the vote and approved the plan anyway. If the Council submits an alternative, a state emergency loan board will ultimately choose between them.