Ypsilanti Citizen News Ypsilanti Cycle

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

Thomson Block fire deemed arson, suspect named

The Thompson Block sits on the northeast corner of Cross and River streets in Depot Town. It has been supported by scaffolding since a fire devastated the building in Sept. 2009. Photo by Citizen file

The Thompson Block sits on the northeast corner of Cross and River streets in Depot Town. It has been supported by scaffolding since a fire devastated the building in Sept. 2009.
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Judge on abatement case changed, hearing date moved back

By Dan DuChene
Apr. 28, 2010    ·    8:46 p.m.

---Updated: April 29, 2010 11:26 a.m.---

A warrant has been issued for the person suspected of causing the September fire that devastated the Thompson Block.

Jacob Robert-Andrew Popiolek, 21, is wanted on arson charges after the Michigan State Police Fire Investigation Unit finished its seven-month investigation.

Ypsilanti Police Sgt. Deric Gress said Popiolek has not yet been arrested. His current whereabouts are unknown and it is possible that he has fled the area. His last known residence was in Ypsilanti and he is known to hang out in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area.

Ypsilanti city officials and representatives from Historic Equities LLC, which owns the 149-year-old former Civil War barracks in Depot Town, were in front of Judge David Swartz in downtown Ann Arbor today for a show cause hearing related to abatement procedure initiated by the city earlier this month.

After the hearing, which resulted in the case being transferred to Judge Donald Shelton, both Ypsilanti Fire Chief Jon Ichesco and Assistant City Attorney Karl Barr said the investigation had been completed and a warrant had been issued.

A receptionist at the Wasthenaw County Prosecutor's Office was unable to produce the warrant. However, Stewart Beal, managing member of Historic Equities, said he had received a letter today informing him he had been the victim of a crime.

“We always knew it was [arson],” Beal said. “I think everybody knew.”

He said he had assumed it was arson because of how quickly the fire spread, as well as investigation results from electricians.

Beal said he did not know the suspect by name.

Show cause hearing
Swartz granted a motion from Beal's attorney, Nora Wright, to have the case transferred to Shelton, who has presided over much of the previous litigation surrounding the Thompson Block.

Karl Barr said the city had no objections other than the delay transferring the case would cause. The new hearing is set for May 12.

“This is clearly a ploy to delay this matter,” Barr said during the hearing.

Wright denied the transfer request was a delay tactic.

A show cause hearing is an opportunity for someone defending a fire or traffic code violation to present a case against abatement.

During today's hearing, Wright said a new hearing could determine the fate of the building, whether it should be demolished or preserved.

The Thompson Block has been supported by wooden scaffolding since the September fire. The scaffolding protrudes into Cross and River Streets and Beal and the city were negotiating a plan to remove the scaffolding from the public right-of-way until City Council finally rejected a proposal earlier this month and directed city attorneys to file a nuisance abatement.

“If you want them to get the scaffolding out of the street, and they want to get the scaffolding out of the street, then what is the problem?” Swartz asked Barr during the hearing.

Barr said the only agreement the city could work out with Beal was a “band-aid” that cleared the right-of-way, but still left a dangerous building in violation of fire codes.

After the hearing, Barr said he was upset with the delay but thought the transfer would prevent grounds for an appeal from Beal if the city won its case.

Beal sent a letter to the Citizen after the hearing.

“I hope that.. Barr will be discouraged by his loss today and ask the City Manager to allow us to complete our plan under a reasonable time table,” Beal said in the letter. “I am extremely confident that when the facts are presented in front of a reasonable party, by that I mean any judge in Washtenaw County, the Beal Group will be allowed to complete their plan.”

Since March 4, Beal said he has been filing construction and right-of-way permits with the city to start work on removing the scaffolding. However, he said they are consistently denied. He said he has re-applied after every denial, culminating in about four applications to date.

“The city of Ypsilanti’s choice of legal action has been proven to be what everyone knew it would be: a delay in the completion of the project,” Beal said his the letter.

“If City Council had supported their city manager by allowing him to move forward with our agreement we would be mostly done by now,” he said. “The only thing in our way at this point is the city itself.”

Related articles:
Stewart Beal's letter
Thompson Block agreement rejected by Ypsilanti City Council
Investigation of Depot Town blaze stalled

Editor's note: This story was updated with information from a wanted poster issued by police on April 29.

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