Homeowners slam city for “shady” business development

An article written in the AMERICAN ARAB NEWS,  by Hassan Khalifel on 9/22/2016:

DEARBORN HEIGHTS………..Following the rezoning of a residential block on Ford Road between Inkster and N. John Daly to a commercial-residential area, homeowners living on Doxtator, a street behind the re-designated properties, say they oppose the redevelopment because the city carried it out illegally.

In March, Mohamed Sobh, the city’s building and engineering director, said the residential area will be converted into a central commercial zone, allowing a mixture of residential and commercial properties to be built. He added the commission will limit the types of business that could be erected there.

Sameeh Kawar, a surgeon living in a multi-million-dollar mansion on Doxtator Street, regarded as one of the richest streets in Dearborn Heights, said most of his neighbors are very upset that businesses are being built right behind their backyards, affecting their homes’ values.

What is troubling them is that the Planning Commission, which handles rezoning and site plans, has not notified the residents of the development, he said.  The commission is required by law to mail letters to nearby residents after a rezoning has been considered, giving homeowners the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns or object to a project before it is voted on in a City Council meeting.  Kawar said his neighbors have considered taking action against the city.

He said residents are concerned that truck traffic, pollution, noise and rats from the shops will impact their neighborhood. He added that a boost in activity could increase crime on the wealthy street and that he has a pool in his backyard, which his family will not be able to use because of privacy concerns.  However, most concerning to Kawar and his neighbors is that almost “overnight” and without notice, the city approved the rezoning, then real estate agents began buying the modest homes facing Ford Road for a cheap price and sold them to private developers for almost $1 million.  He said the residents also fear the city is making deals under the table with private developers to expedite the development process.

Construction to build these businesses has already begun.  “There’s something wrong here — something…playing in the dark,” Kawar added.

Imad Sabbagh, Kawar’s neighbor, said that while he defends the real estate agents’ rights to sell homes as part of their business, he wished he could vote against the rezoning.  This is not the first time Dearborn Heights’ residents were unable to protest a project in their town, he said.

In previous years, Sabbagh received a notice that a gas station would be built near his business. He attempted to object to it at a City Council meeting, in front of the mayor.  “They said this is what they proposed and this is what they’re gonna get,” Sabbagh said. “We went and spoke our mind and we ended up saying, ‘they’re bigger than us; they’re going to do it whether we like it or not.’ And they went ahead and did it.”

He added that he noticed the block was rezoned about four or five years ago, way before it was explicit, when he began seeing commercial trucks parked in the driveways of the houses on Ford Road.  Parking commercial trucks at residential homes is against Dearborn Heights ordinances.

Gus Mareskas, a longtime resident of Doxtator Street, said he is infuriated that his city would not consult taxpayers of a major development that will directly affect their living conditions.  “Somebody is making big dough,” he said. “Why rezone the area without asking anybody?”

Dearborn Heights Councilman Dave Abdallah, a real estate agent, said while the rezoning went into effect prior to his election, redevelopment was considered due to safety concerns. Cars backing out of the driveways leading to Ford Road could cause accidents with oncoming traffic.  For that reason, he said the city decided a mixed commercial designation was a “much more appropriate use” of the block.

As for the unusually high sale price of the homes, Abdallah said prior to the rezoning, the homes were on the market for an average of $200,000. After the rezoning, the prices almost quadrupled due, along with high demand, to great interest in opening businesses in a new strip mall and concentrated communities.  Dearborn Heights’ Mayor Dan Paletko told The AANews there was no attempt from the city to force the project on unaware residents. He said he has no evidence to believe the city is profiting from the project.  “It was natural and everybody expected at some point in time that the rest of Ford Road would turn into a commercial property,” he added.

Paletko also said developers of the new shops were required to file permits and submit building plans that had to be approved by the city’s planning commission.  He added that one of the developers had been critical of the city for imposing strict zoning codes.  At the time of the rezoning years ago, the mayor said a notification would have been placed in a local paper.  Mareskas said such notice would have been too inconspicuous and impractical for residents to read.

According to Paletko, when the developer requested a variance in the plan in recent months that placed a condition to build the shops on the back-end of the properties, so that parking spaces were located at the front end, similar to neighboring plazas, the Zoning Board of Appeals sent out a notice to residents regarding the change.  Paletko said the city is working on getting permission to limit access to Doxtator Street for the residents’ protection.  He also said it’s his understanding that a wall or other barrier will separate the neighborhood from the businesses.  In March, the mayor said he hoped to see the area become a downtown Dearborn Heights.

We have ordinances in our city, books of them.  The ordinance people are in the midst of doing “sweeps” to get uniformity and basic ordinances followed.  If ordinances are questioned by the residents, anything other than the clean up basics, the complaints are avoided.  Even after the sweeps, some people realized the ordinance dept. was not equal in their efforts throughout the neighborhoods.

Complaints featured in the past, like a business offering/performing services not allowed, expired licenses, or homes that have been purchased and turned into boarding homes that are not allowed in the city, or the residents of these homes involved with illegal or dangerous activities.  I have seen first hand how the Ordinance Dept. avoids ticketing or even discussing those complaints.  Good luck to the people on Doxtator dealing with decisions made by Mr. Sobh, ordinance representatives. or the administration.


To Our Ordinance Department

After years of complaining about a certain business and their junk yard/garbage dump, my calls to the Ordinance Department were answered.

Special Thanks to our Ordinance Department

Business with overflowing dumpster


After years of complaining about a certain business and their junk yard/garbage dump, my calls to the Ordinance Department were answered.  It took a couple weeks but the very next day after the Ordinance Department got the business to clean up and dump their dumpster. It took a couple weeks but the very next day after the Ordinance Department got the business to clean up and dump their dumpster, was the last day that we have seen rodents in our area.  It has been over a week and I am so happy.

Well, I was so happy.  I drove past the business’s dumpster and it is right back to overflowing, the lid is open giving their rodents a jumping board to our property.  I am sorry ahead of time to the Ordinance Department, but I cannot live with the rodents that this business is attracting and breeding.  I will be calling you and complaining again.  I hope we are able to get the business to clean up and empty the dumpster before the rodents are able to settle in.




The symptoms of this disease are blight, rats, and the inability to stop these things, and worse, from happening and destroying their homes and their lives.

The people in the South End of Dearborn Heights are wearing out trying to keep ahead of the disease. The symptoms of this disease are blight, rats, and the inability to stop these things, and worse, from happening and destroying their homes and their lives. People are moving out, leaving the disease behind. Those of us that are left are pleading with the city to help us.

I get at lease two calls a week concerning blight, rats, and empty homes. I have followed the rank and file, as it was explained to me. The Ordinance Department has been leaving notes on doors, threats of what will happen if the home owner doesn’t follow the rules. If nothing happens the Ordinance Dept comes back out and leaves more reminders. They are doing as much as they can.

Calls that I have received in the past two weeks concern rats, outside feeding of birds and squirrels, empty homes as breeding grounds for the rats, and general blight conditions. I suggest that the people call the Ordinance Dept. Some do, sometimes I do, and the notes are building up on the doors.

On the east side of Telegraph, people are calling me to ask for help. One house, a rental, the family left because of the rats. The neighbors complained of the smell of gas so they called the gas company. The gas was reported not to be consumer’s gas, it was auto gas. The neighbors were told that someone was pouring gas down the rat burrows.  Another slip of paper put on the door. The neighbors keep calling and Ordinance keeps adding more slips of paper to the door.  Another house, a rental, has been left uninhabited, has loads of debris in the yard that is housing rats. The house is providing enough rats to cover the entire area. Ordinance just added another slip of paper to the door.

There are so many houses that are empty and are being destroyed, broken windows, doors, etc.  It all makes our community look bad and we are vulnerable.

Make a Difference in Dearborn HeightsIMG_1428IMG_1434IMG_1435 (1)

The Southwest Dearborn Heights Association, that was created to help the people in this area with these types of problems has had no impact as far as I know.  We have been told that our Ordinance officers were being trained in Vector Control.  It is our hope that the Vector Control is the answer to the rat problem.

The South End is dying and we need help from our city. If anyone can suggest anything please write in the comment section. I have lived in this city all of my life, and more than 36 years in this home. I have never had rodent problems, nor neighbor problems. I won’t give up as long as I can last. There has to be something we can do.  We have to work hand in hand with our city officials to overcome these problems.