Land dispute prompts trustee questions


Mar. 26, 2013  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.

The supervisor is the chief assessment officer of the township”

(Pictured above, Richard Reaume, Plymouth Township Supervisor)

A four-hour meeting of the township clerk, treasurer, supervisor and city attorney took place last Thursday, apparently prompted by questions asked during the regular meeting of the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees Tuesday.

That regular board meeting erupted into a verbal melee prompted by questions from Trustee Chuck Curmi.

Responses to Curmi’s barrage of questions were nonchalant or reasonably calm until he reached the last item which concerned a recent Affidavit Affecting Real Property filed by City of Detroit Attorney Timothy Beckett regarding 190-acres of land at the former Detroit House of Corrections site. The land, part of a 323-acre foreclosure sale by the Wayne County Treasurer’s office, was purchased by the township for about $606,000 in 2011, financed with a loan from The Bank of Ann Arbor. The land, however, was improperly recorded in the township assessor’s office which prevented the correct owner, the City of Detroit, from ever receiving a tax bill. The land still belongs to Detroit, as state law allows a taxpayer who did not receive bills recourse to reclaim the land and because municipal land is not subject to tax foreclosure. The Plymouth Township assessor’s office erroneously listed the 190-acre parcel as belonging to Demco 54,the owner of the other 133 acres included in the sale.

According to the affidavit, “The purported foreclosure and conveyance of the publicly owned property by the Wayne County Treasurer is void.”

Ironically, Curmi’s questions came following a 20-minute presentation by Township Supervisor Richard Reaume about the assessor’s office and the procedures and policies of that office. The supervisor is the chief assessment officer of the township.

Board members appeared astonished at Curmi’s question and the loss of the property while Reaume attempted to shrug it off, according to audience members. During the heated comments which followed, Trustee Ron Doroshewitz walked behind Curmi and attempted to read the copy of The Eagle from which he was quoting, witnesses said.

“I’m reading in the paper that there is an affidavit that takes back the property. Where is that affidavit?” Curmi demanded.

Board members, according to audience reports, were shouting questions and speaking over one another, demanding details of the situation. Treasurer Ron Edwards heatedly asked who authored the front-page newspaper story.

“What difference does that make?” Curmi shouted over the trustees’ voices, “just call the editor.”

“The city (Detroit) has never contacted us to date,” Edwards shouted.

Reaume concurred, saying, “The city (Detroit) has never called about an affidavit.”

“If I bought a piece of property like this, I’d be nervous right now,” Curmi said. “Was the land collateral for the loan? Can we rent it out or do something with it,” he asked.

The affidavit attests to the irregularity of the township claim to the property and the erroneous recording of the owner of record. No warranty deed was ever requested by the township for the land at the time of the sale in September of 2011.

Edwards attempted to calm the situation and said, “We started making some phone calls earlier today. If the sale is void, then they have to refund our money. The City of Detroit was given three registered letters and didn’t respond…eight parties were notified,” he said

The City of Detroit, under state law, can reclaim the land and also has the option of suing the township for the true cash value of the property which was listed on the tax rolls, along with the other parcel, at $16 million. The portion of the property sale that is not in dispute contains 77 acres of land assessed as wetlands or in a flood plain. |News Plymouth Michigan

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