Defendant, Raymond Wojtowicz- Wayne County Treasurer
May 9, 2013 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
UPDATED – FULL STORY
Defendant: Charter Township of Plymouth
Defendant: Wayne County
Defendant: Wojtowicz, as Wayne County Treasurer, Raymond J.
Plaintiff: City of Detroit
The City of Detroit has filed a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court seeking the return of 190-acres of property from Plymouth Township.
The suit, filed on April 5 and amended April 18, also asks for all costs accrued by Detroit, interest the city lost, legal fees, court costs and “such other relief to which the plaintiff may be entitled.” That other relief, as outlined by state law, includes up to double the full market value of the property. The land in question was last assessed at $8 million, or a true cash value of $16 million.
The property is part of a 323- acre plot bordered by Napier, Five Mile, Beck and Ridge roads that the township purchased for about $606,150 from Wayne County in September of 2011. The property, formerly the site of Detroit House of Corrections or Dehoco, was erroneously sold by the county under provisions of a county tax sale. A recording discrepancy failed to identify the property as two separate parcels, one of 190 acres and the other of 133 acres. The 190-acre parcel was owned by the City of Detroit and the 133-acre plot was owned by Demco 54. Property tax assessments and notifications went to Demco 54 on the entire 323 acres but were never paid. Notices of taxes due or delinquency on the 190 acres never went to the City of Detroit, the true owner, due to the incorrect recording in the town- ship assessor’s office. Supervisor Richard Reaume, by township charter, is the chief assessing officer for the township, although the actual assessing is done by an outside provider, Wayne County Appraisals, based in Westland.
The township borrowed the purchase price from Ann Arbor Bank and continues to make payments on the loan. Of the 133- acres, nearly 77 are in a flood plain or are wetlands and unsuitable for construction, according to property records.
City of Detroit attorney Timothy Beckett has been researching the issue since Plymouth Township resident Richard Sharland questioned the ownership of the land last September. Sharland, whose family has owned property in the area of the disputed land since 1854, found the discrepancies when searching for the correct owner of the land near his property. In January, Beckett filed an Affidavit Affecting Real Property with the Wayne County Registrar of Deeds. In that document, the city claims, “The purported foreclosure and conveyance of the publicly-owned property by the Wayne County Treasurer is void.”
Property records show that the entire 323-acre parcel was purchased by Plymouth Township from the county with only a quit claim deed. There has been no explanation from township officials as to the reason for not seeking a warranty deed on the property at the time of the sale.
Also named as defendants in the suit are the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office and Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz.
Wojtowicz, through spokesperson David Szymanski, a deputy treasurer, has remained adamant that the issue must be settled between the City of Detroit and Plymouth Township.
“Our response hasn’t changed. We proceeded on information provided to us by Plymouth Township.”
Detroit has also filed a second, separate action against the Wayne County Treasurer’s office seeking monetary damages as a result of the foreclosure sale.
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