Royalton Twp. streamlines method to fight blight

ST. JOSEPH — Royalton Township approved a zoning ordinance amendment that is expected to give the board a clear path toward addressing blighted properties in its jurisdiction.

Township Manager Steve Tilly said one of the changes in the amendment now requires the township to only send out two letters – instead of three letters – warning a property owner that they are in violation.

“It makes it a little clearer than the old version. It makes the steps we have to take a little clearer. It’s the same information – it just simplifies it.”

While the board approved the ordinance amendment at Monday’s meeting, following a public hearing, Tilly said the amendment doesn’t officially take effect for another 30 days.

Tilly said the board chose to look at amending its ordinance due to the amount of difficulty it has had with trying to remove several modular office trailers from a property along M-139.

“Other than the trailers, we’ve had some other issues here and there,” Tilly said. “Even the attorney felt like there was a lot to go through.”

The trailers were moved to a Royalton Township property three years ago with the intent of them being used as part of a school for the Benton Harbor Girls Academy.

In a Sept. 9 meeting, township trustees agreed to pay for the cost of moving the trailers from the property to avoid taking the property owner to court.

However, the Benton Harbor Girls Association for Learning & Self-Esteem, which has a controlling interest over the girls academy, has yet to take the township up on its offer.

Tilly said the township began working on the ordinance amendment in August.

“We’ve all been involved with this discussion for quite some time,” Supervisor Robert Basselman said during the public hearing. “It really spells out the proper procedure. The previous version was kind of vague and we didn’t know what kind of authority we had.”

The next board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Royalton Township Hall.

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski