Detroit attorney eager to fight township appeal
Jul. 27, 2015 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
City of Detroit attorney Charles Raimi said last week he’s anxious to get back in court to take on the appeal Plymouth Township attorneys filed asking for reconsideration of a court order requiring the township to return 190-acres of land to Detroit.
Attorneys representing the township filed for the reconsideration in the Michigan Court of Appeals seeking to overturn a lower court decision that ordered the township to return 190-acres of land, part of a 323-acre parcel formerly known as the Detroit House of Corrections, to the city. Township attorneys argued unsuccessfully for more than two years with the City of Detroit regarding the ownership of the $16 million parcel of land, located on Five Mile Road, between Napier and Ridge roads. The land dispute has been in court since the Detroit bankruptcy filing in 2013. The property once housed the Detroit prison farm.
“I’ve asked the appellate court to expedite the appeal,” said Raimi, City of Detroit deputy corporate counsel, in a telephone interview last week.
“There’s a cloud over the title,” Raimi said. “We’re ready to sell our property once this is cleared.”
In February, Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Columbo Jr. ruled that the land should be returned to the City of Detroit as the legal owner and that the Wayne County tax foreclosure sale of the land to Plymouth Township was improper.
Plymouth Township paid $606,150 in 2011 for two parcels of acreage at a foreclosure sale by the Wayne County treasurer’s office. The land was foreclosed on by the county when the recorded owners, Demco 54, a subsidiary of DeMattia Corp., failed to pay taxes on the land. The two parcels were improperly recorded as belonging to Demco 54 by the Plymouth Township assessor’s office, when in fact, the City of Detroit owned the 190-acre parcel and had never sold or transferred title to the land. The township reported the tax arrearage on the entire section of property to the county which then sold the land to the township at the tax foreclosure sale. Detroit was never notified of any tax arrearage by the township or the county as the notices went to Demco 54 which never paid any tax on any portion of the property.
Plymouth Township, in the appeal of Columbo’s ruling, claims the 2010 State Tax Commission bulletin exempting municipal property from foreclosure did not recognize that the land is only exempted when it is used for a public purpose. In court filings, township attorneys say that Detroit left the land undeveloped and therefore the State Tax Commission exceeded it’s authority in exempting the land and that the “inclusion of municipally-owned land is flawed.”
The Plymouth Township legal filing in the Court of Appeals started the clock for the city to respond. Raimi says he’s already responded and filed a brief in the appellate court stating he ready for oral arguments and hopes the ruling won’t take more than six months.
“I feel Judge Columbo’s decision was entirely proper.” Raimi said.