Owner of former Tecumseh Products’ site behind in taxes
When driving on the south side of Tecumseh prior to the Monday, June 2 city council meeting, it wasn’t hard to notice uncut grass and open doors — just a few indicators of the troubles faced by the former Tecumseh Products property now owned by Tecumseh Food Machinery and Engineering, LLC. The new company, and owner Dave Roberts, came into possession of the property on February 3, 2012.
Currently, Tecumseh Food Machinery and Engineering, LLC owes $85,965.46 in delinquent taxes, according to the Tecumseh’s assessor website. The last tax payment made was for $67,959.17 on August 28, 2012.
On July 12, 2013, a $564.94 utility payment was made on a $4,257.54 balance. That was the last payment for the utilities and a $3,691.60 balance remains.
Part of the building is being demolished and that process is still in the first of four phases, according to Tecumseh Building Services Director Brad Raymond.
“I believe the owner’s intent is to demo the rest of the building,” said City Manager Kevin Welch in a Tuesday, June 3 interview.
When reached for comment Dave Roberts said he had nothing to do with the property and said Welch should have the contact information for his son, Dino, who is involved with the project. When pressed for more information, Roberts’ line went dead. Neither Welch nor Raymond could be reached for comment on Thursday, June 5 about Dino.
Besides the delinquent taxes, neighbors have complained that the property appears unsafe.
“Three or four years ago, on New Year’s Eve, the internal service line broke to the fire suppression system in the building,” Welch said. “Somebody turned the heat off… and as we understand it, flooded the building.”
Subsequently, the city turned off the water to the building and that’s why it cannot be occupied without a fire watch present.
“We will not turn off fire suppression on a building unless it is unoccupied and typically we won’t do it even then,” added Welch. “We would normally not allow a building to be unprotected whatsoever even if it’s unoccupied. In this case, since the water line broke and there was nobody in the building, we had no choice but to turn it off.”
Because of the fire suppression system no longer working, along with the utilities turned off, access to the building is not permitted without approval from the city, said Welch. “And that’s why we’re saying no one can be in that building. The only time we will approve entry is on a case-by-case basis — and if they have a fire watch.”
“If somebody entered that building and there were a fire or somebody caused a fire, our fire department would have no way of knowing who’s in that building or where they are at,” Welch added. “They’re at risk and they put our firefighters at risk.”
The city can, and has, restricted access to the building, which is why anyone entering must follow the established procedure for a fire watch and notify the fire department that they are in that building. Not doing so, people who enter the building could be fined for violating established ordinances. Anyone on the property illegally could face trespassing charges from the owner of the property.
With the building vacant, the city does watch the property.
“We keep an eye on it as best we can,” said Welch. “It appears to be secure. If somebody enters that building, they are probably doing it illegally.”
The building has no security and there are sizable gaps in the fencing around the property that could allow children and teenagers to enter. Welch said they hope to meet with the owner “pretty quick” to address situations like the gaps in the fence. Welch did add that they haven’t received any complaints about illegal trespassing on the property. In addition, the city cannot force a property to have security, Welch noted.
Welch said that if someone wanted to enter the property, they could even hop the fence.
“There’s not a hell of a lot we can do to stop somebody from doing something that they want to do illegally. If they do then they’re taking their own safety at risk.”