By Rosemary K. Otzman
Steve Tibble, a regional official of Insurance Auto Auction on Rawsonville Road, attended the Oct. 14 meeting of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees to field questions on the cars they have parked in a field north of Willis Road.
Tibble, of the main office in Westchester, IL, said there was a catastrophic event in mid-August in Detroit and a lot of streets were flooded. The damaged vehicles were towed to facilities throughout the Detroit area, he said.
He said cars were brought to the main local facility on Rawsonville Road and then moved to the leased location on Willis Road.
He said the auction is open to the public each Thursday. The state can only handle so many cars at a time with salvage and clear titles and so it will take from 90 to 120 days to clear the cars out.
He said there were 2,200 cars completely and about 1,700 were in Sumpter. He said about 40% of them have been removed so far and they are continuing to clear the property.
Resident Mary Sherwood asked him if his company has been given a time by the township board when they have to leave the field and Tibble said he was given no date.
“You could be there next year,” she said and Tibble replied that he hopes to be out in the next 90 days.
“We hope so,” Sherwood said.
Trustee Bill Hamm asked if there were any fluids leaking.
Tibble said before the cars are taken to the holding yard, they are inspected by state and government inspectors and then by the Auto Auction people.
He said the company has a multi-million-dollar policy for the cleanup of any problems.
Hamm said it has been raining and asked if they are taking care of any mud they may be dragging onto the road.
“We can monitor that,” Tibble said.
Township attorney Rob Young said there was a report that there was some effort to park vehicles on private property that was not leased.
Tibble said they have a huge business — 160 locations in the U.S. and Canada – and they wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize their business, such as illegally parking vehicles.
“We have leases on both the properties we’re on,” Tibble said.
“We feel confident in you that what you tell us tonight is true,” said Acting Township Supervisor John Morgan.
Trustee Hamm said people said this was Roy Acho’s property. He said he checked it out himself and it isn’t Acho’s property.
He said the shiny cars look nice, like an auto sales yard, and they don’t look like a junkyard. He said all of the statements made at the previous board meeting were untrue.
Trustee Peggy Morgan said she saw two car haulers turning into the parking area and they obviously were to ship cars out.
“I was pleased to see that,” Trustee Morgan said.
Clerk Clarence Hoffman said if the insurance company is pulling these cars in and Auto Auction is selling them, these cars must be good to use.
Tibble said they are sold for a multiple number of uses. He said about 40% go overseas and the remaining are sold to pick-and-pull operations, to their licensed buyers, and to the public.
He said a lot of the cars are used as parts cars for body shops.
“The insurance company owns it [the damaged vehicle] and we sell it on their behalf,” Tibble said.
“The public could come in and bid on Thursdays,” Trustee Morgan said and Tibble agreed.
He said laws in the State of Michigan allow the public to bid on the cars.
Tibble said at the end of the lease, they will re-grass it as it was when they got there. He said in Michigan grass won’t grow until spring, so that’s when they’ll have to re-seed.
Trustee Hamm said Ordinance Officer Randy Lynch was present to answer any questions about the parked cars on Willis, but no one had any questions for him.
Lynch said he had been out to the scene “a couple dozen times” to keep track of what was going on.
Acting Supervisor Morgan told the Independent that the owner of the property leased is Billy Arwood, who also owns a construction company. Also, branch manager of Sumpter’s Insurance Auto Auction is Bobby R. Nicholson.
In other business on Oct. 14, the board:
• Heard Police Chief James Pierce announce the death of retired Police Detective/Sergeant Mike Czinski, with the arrangements for his funeral. He said Det./Sgt. Czinski was age 53 and taken too soon. “Our whole department is saddened,” Chief Pierce said. Then, a moment of silence was held in Czinski’s memory;
• Approved purchase of a Western 8’ Pro Plus Snow Plow Plus Package for $4,771 from Harold’s Frame Shop;
• Approved a resolution for the Memorial Garden that adjoins township hall. Employees had memorialized the late Clarence Primm with a tree and a plaque there last spring, and employees wish to continue to memorialize employees with a tree, a plant or a bush. The resolution said in the future only employees of Sumpter Township, that a collection is taken for, may be memorialized in this garden;
• Approved the new Ypsilanti Community Utility Authority contract and directed the clerk and supervisor sign it. Attorney Young said the contract was agreed to tentatively a year ago, but reporting requirements needed to be changed and three weeks ago YCUA was ready to approve it;
• Approved, with regrets, the resignation of Sandra Todd from the Board of Review and the Zoning Board of Appeals;
• Approved the Haunted House at Fire Station #1 on Oct. 31;
• Approved a new policy not to allow staff or fire department personnel at the fire stations from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. unless authorized by the fire chief or they are taking part in a fire department response;
• Approved the chain of command for the fire department as it relates to discipline as presented, but without names, using only positions. “The board reviews this from time to time and the board makes final decisions on all important issues,” said Acting Supervisor Morgan;
• Approved Resolution 2014-14 to amend and restate the agreement between Sumpter and the County of Wayne Urban County Cooperative Agreement of the Federal Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG);
• Approved the new Wayne County Parks Grant of $20,000;
• Approved Trustee Hamm’s request to go out for quotes to change the lights inside to amber and mark the outside of a former police car to read “Sumpter Township Ordinance Department” or “Ordinance Officer”;
• Heard Parks & Recreation Commission chairman Kim Toms thank everyone for helping with the festival and other Parks and Rec events; and
• Heard Mary Ban introduce Bernard A. Grant, a member of the Common Cents Slate for Library Board in the Nov. 4 election. After the meeting closed, LaChelle Reed Caver of Sumpter, another Common Cents Slate member, arrived and talked with members of the audience.
By Rosemary K. Otzman