Owner of buildings linked to potentially toxic chemicals has long history of battling Detroit officials

Gary Sayers owns properties linked to chemicals in Madison Heights, Detroit

DETROIT – Local 4′s Help Me Hank has uncovered new information about the city of Detroit’s long legal battle with the man who owns two buildings linked to potentially toxic chemicals in Madison Heights and Detroit.

City officials have taken legal action to try to force Gary Sayers to clean up his potentially dangerous properties. His property in the 5900 block of Commonwealth Street, like the Electro-Plating Services building in Madison Heights, might be filled with toxic chemical, according to authorities.

Help Me Hank has obtained documents that show a long history between city officials and Sayers. Detroit, the Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have been working to control Sayers for years, but not much has worked.

About 10 years ago, DNR officials went after Sayers, and as a result, a written consent order prohibited him from storing hazardous materials on his Detroit property, documents show.

There are misdemeanor charges pending for illegal use of property. Sayers pleaded guilty, and sentencing is expected in March.

Last summer, the Detroit Law Department Blight Team filed a nuisance lawsuit against Sayers. That lawsuit is ongoing.

The focus now is on testing what was discovered inside the Commonwealth Street building and securing that property.

Sayers is currently in a federal prison in Morgantown, West Virginia. The facility has been nicknamed “Club Fed” because of its amenities, which include a large college-like campus. Most people there are non-violent, white collar criminals.

More charges could be coming and more investigations might soon open.

Here is an email statement sent from city officials:

"About 10 years ago, the state’s Department of Natural Resources took Mr. Sayers to task regarding management of his facilities in Madison Heights and Detroit. As a part of that activity, a written consent order directed that Electroplating Services was/is prohibited from storing any hazardous materials on his property in Detroit.

"At present, there are several open code violations related to property maintenance on the Commonwealth property, and there are criminal (misdemeanor) proceedings pending. Mr. Sayers pleaded guilty in December 2019 to a misdemeanor charge for illegal use of property. His sentencing was delayed until March 2020 to provide him time to fix the improper use.

"In the summer of 2019, the City Law Department’s blight team initiated a nuisance lawsuit against Mr. Sayers’ company (the owner of 5900 Commonwealth), seeking to abate the attractive nuisance of his improper storage of scrap metal and inoperable industrial machinery. That lawsuit is still ongoing.

“Prior to the discovery of potentially hazardous waste material last Friday, the plan was to allow Mr. Sayers to abate the nuisance and/or sell the property, so long as the buyer came into the suit, subject to an order to abate. Since the discovery, the Law Department is undertaking to (1) advise of the Court of the new information; (2) coordinate with EGLE to test and properly dispose of any hazardous material; (3) guard against entry onto the property in order to protect public health/safety.”

You can watch Hank Winchester’s full report in the video above.

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