Muskegon Heights pushes program to eliminate blight

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Muskegon Heights is warning homeowners to keep their yards clear of debris, trash and abandoned vehicles — or face fines.

The warning comes after the city reported an excess of blight, trash and abandoned vehicles throughout neighborhoods.

“This is the city of friendly people. It is a warm welcoming community. We just need to make sure that it looks that way,” said Muskegon Heights City Manager Troy Bell.

The city recently started a program encouraging community members to keep their property clear of trash and debris. The police department plans to surprise neighbors participating in the program with monetary rewards. They say those who continue to dump garbage or leave excess amounts of trash on their property could face fines.

“What we’re trying to do is warn people that we’re going to be enforcing blight (ordinances). We’re talking about trash, we’re talking about dilapidated cars,” said Muskegon Heights Police Chief Joseph Thomas.

The city says those small acts could bring big money to the local economy.

“People want to invest their money, want to engage in business in communities that look beautiful,” said Bell. 

The city says keeping the community clean could also deter crime, referencing James Q. Wilson and George Kelling’s broken windows theory.

“Those people who are intent to do nefarious things think that they can do it inherently in communities that don’t look good and communities that have trash because they figure that the expectations must be low if they’re allowing this trash to sit on the streets,” said Bell. 

The city says keeping the community clean will be a collaborative effort. They say their ultimate goal is to return the city to its status in the 1980’s.

“The city of Muskegon Heights will rise like a phoenix and become what it used to be and we’re going to take our rightful place,” said Thomas.

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