Metal roof support beams “in danger of collapse”


IMLAY CITY — Following a brief public hearing where they heard a report on the abandoned car wash on Van Dyke Rd. (S. Cedar), the Imlay City Commission has voted to move forward with legal steps to try and rectify the unsightly property. The action came during last Tuesday evening’s regular meeting.

Building Inspector Lonnie Hayes inspected the business multiple times, placing a warning tag on the building that stated in part, “This structure is declared unsafe for human occupancy or use.” The tag was dated January 25, 2023.

Hayes updated the commission on his finding and recommended the city moves forward in having the building torn down.

“I’ve looked at the property and building several times, and it has now gotten to the point where the roof is in danger of collapse,” Hayes warned the commission.

“It’s not just surface rust on the metal support beams of the roof, it’s rust that is compromising the integrity of those beams. It is very deep structural damage and extremely dangerous,” Hayes continued.

The Imlay City commission listens to a report concerning what has been ruled a dangerous structure at 330 S. Cedar St. The property is the old car wash that authorities say has been abandoned. The board voted to proceed with the process, including possible court action.

A letter from Construction Code Authority was addressed to Adan Fuentes and Maria Fuentes of Lapeer, along with a letter to Paul LaFontaine of Newark Promotions regarding the car wash, located at 330 S. Cedar St.

Both Hayes and City Manager Craig Horton stated they believed the property to be a situation of a land contract arrangement between those who received the notice.

Neither Fuentes nor LaFontaine, or any other representative of the property, was at the meeting last week.

Following discussion on the topic, and information from city attorney Robert Seibert, the commission voted to support Hayes’ findings and to proceed with the case that could lead up to circuit court action and ultimately, the city possibly hiring a contractor to demolish the structure.

The city will be mailing further notices to both involved parties making them aware of their decision.

In other commission news, DPW Supervisor Ed Priehs updated the commission on the sewer project that has been on-going for the past several weeks.

Following commission approval of a pay draw totaling over $334,000 to cover work done on the project, Priehs informed the commission another $44,700 had been added on to the overall costs. The additional work included moving a manhole in the area of Third St.

Priehs also told the commission he was able to negotiate a considerable savings of overcharges with the company doing the work.

“The former superintendent on the job was asking for things to be paid for that weren’t the city’s responsibility,” Priehs explained. “I was able to work with the new superintendent and we were able to take the overtures from $192,000 down to $28,000. So, that was a considerable savings for the city.”

Also at the meeting, at least two commission members asked about an issue that first happened at the March 5 meeting, just a week after Imlay City voters rejected a public safety proposal.

City resident Jesse Rhodes, who is also a deputy sheriff for Lapeer County, attended the March 5 meeting and claimed City Manager Horton attempted to have him fired from the county, or to have him disciplined.

Rhodes claimed postings on social media were the cause of the upheaval. He said he did not support the millage and felt it was poorly explained with few details of how taxpayer money would be spent, if the millage passed.

For the past several weeks, the incident has been discussed at commission meetings and it again came to a head last week.

Mayor Joi Kempf shared a written statement she prepared for the commission with the Tri-City Times.

She told the commission as far as she is concerned, the matter is over with, and she would like to move on.

In her statement, Kempf said she had spoken with City Manager Horton and Sheriff Scott McKenna and, “was satisfied that Mr. Horton and Sheriff McKenna’s conversation was strictly an inquiry by Mr. Horton.” She went on to say, “Mr. Horton was concerned after reading Deputy Rhode’s social media posts and inquired as to whether the Sheriff Department was supporting the Imlay City public safety millage. Mr. Horton did not mention or discuss firing or disciplining Deputy Rhodes.”

Kempf said Police Chief Brett Selby had told the commission two separate times that he had spoken with the Sheriff directly and was told, “at no time did Mr. Horton try to get Deputy Rhodes fired.”

After being asked by commission members Al Ramirez and Joe DeLuca to have the Sheriff come to a meeting to discuss the topic, Mayor Kempf said in her statement, it was not going to happen,

“Following my call to the Sheriff Dept., Chief Selby spoke with the Undersheriff. he confirmed that Mr. Horton did not discuss firing Deputy Rhodes. When asked, the Undersheriff explained that neither the Sheriff nor the Undersheriff would be attending any Imlay City commission meeting for the purpose of discussing this matter any further.”

Despite asking last month for the Sheriff to come to a meeting, Ramirez back tracked at last week’s meeting, saying it made no sense to ask the Sheriff to come.

Kempf said she completely trusts the Chief and Sheriff and, “I have no reason to say they are not telling me the truth.”

At the end of the meeting, the mayor said unless a commission member had a motion to make for some sort of action, she was considering the issue over with and moving on with city business.