1472.07  HEARING OFFICER; HEARING; TESTIMONY; ORDER; NON- APPEARANCE OR NONCOMPLIANCE; COSTS.
   (a)   The Mayor shall appoint a Hearing Officer for a term of three years to conduct a hearing which shall be open to the public, at which the owner shall be granted an opportunity to show cause why the building or structure should not be demolished or otherwise made safe as ordered by the City Engineer or the City Engineer's designee.  The Hearing Officer may not be an employee of the City and shall have expertise in housing matters including, but not limited to, an engineer, architect, building contractor, building inspector, or member of a community housing organization.
   (b)   In any proceedings under this section, the Hearing Officer has the power to administer oaths and affirmations and to certify official acts.  The Hearing Officer shall proceed with reasonable dispatch to conclude any matter before him or her.  Due regard shall be shown for the convenience and necessity of the parties and their representatives.
   (c)   The Hearing Officer shall cause a record of the entire proceeding to be made by tape recording or by other means of permanent recording determined appropriate by the Hearing Officer.  A transcript of the proceedings shall be made available to all parties upon request and upon payment of a fee prescribed therefor.  The fee may be established by the Hearing Officer but shall not be greater than the cost of making the transcript.
   (d)   The hearing need not be conducted according to the technical rules of evidence adopted for the Courts of Record in the State of Michigan.
   (e)   (1)   The Hearing Officer shall take testimony from the City Engineer or the City Engineer's designee, the owner of the property and any person having knowledge relevant to the condition of the property.  Oral evidence shall be taken only upon oath or affirmation of the party offering the testimony.
      (2)   Any relevant evidence shall be admitted.  "Relevant evidence" shall be defined, for the purposes of this section, as the type of evidence upon which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs.  Such relevant evidence shall be admitted regardless of whether or not it may be admissible in civil actions in courts of competent jurisdiction.
      (3)   Irrelevant and unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.
   (f)   Each party shall have these rights:
      (1)   To call and examine witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;
      (2)   To introduce documentary and physical evidence;
      (3)   To cross-examine opposing witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;
      (4)   To impeach any witness regardless of which party first called the witness to testify;
      (5)   To refute the evidence;
      (6)   To represent himself or herself or to be represented by anyone of his or her choice who is lawfully permitted to do so; and
      (7)   To make a closing statement at the conclusion of the evidentiary portion of the hearing.
   (g)   Failure of the owner or the owner's authorized representative to appear at the hearing may be deemed to be an admission by the owner of the facts set forth in the City Engineer or the City Engineer's designee's notice and order.
   (h)   Consideration shall be given to the following when rendering a decision:
      (1)   The evidence presented;
      (2)   The condition of the building or structure as a whole;
      (3)   The extent of the deterioration of the building or structure;
      (4)   The cost of demolishing the building or structure;
      (5)   The cost of making the building or structure safe (if the estimated cost of repair exceeds the state equalized value of the building or structure to be repaired, a rebuttable presumption that the building or structure requires immediate demolition exists);
      (6)   Whether a reasonable person exercising prudent business judgment would determine the cost of making the building or structure safe would exceed the market value of the structure after the repairs were completed;
      (7)   Whether there are any conflicts with other ordinances, state laws or federal statutes;
      (8)   The effect the completion of the demolition and removal or of making the building or structure safe would have upon the health, safety and welfare of the area immediately surrounding the building or structure in question; and
      (9)   Whether actual substantial progress has been made by the owner to make the building safe.  In determining whether substantial progress has been made, the Hearing Officer considers such factors as whether a building permit has been obtained relative to the repairs, whether the owner has contracted for necessary materials or services, and the extent to which the repairs or demolition has progressed.
   (i)   At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall render a decision based upon the findings of fact and the competent evidence and testimony admitted during the hearing.  The Hearing Officer shall be required to conduct an on-site inspection of the building or structure.  The Hearing Officer may sustain, amend or dismiss the order of the City Engineer or the City Engineer's designee.  Said decision shall be in writing.
   (j)   If the Hearing Officer shall determine that the building or structure is a dangerous building at the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall sustain the findings of the City Engineer or the City Engineer's designee.  The Hearing Officer shall then order the building or structure to be demolished or made safe, as the facts determined by the Hearing Officer shall dictate.  The Hearing Officer shall fix a time by which the owner of the building or structure shall complete the demolition or make the building or structure safe.  In no event shall the period established by the Hearing Officer exceed 30 days from the date of the service of the Hearing Officer's notice of findings and order.  The Hearing Officer's notice of findings and order shall be given to the owner in the manner set forth in this chapter.  The effective date of the Hearing Officer's notice of findings and order shall be upon service as provided in this chapter.
   (k)   The decision of the Hearing Officer shall be final.  The authority of the Hearing Officer to sustain, amend or dismiss the City Engineer or the City Engineer's designee's notice and order ceases upon the service of the Hearing Officer's notice of findings and order as set forth in this chapter.  Upon such service, the Hearing Officer shall have no authority to reverse his or her decision, to grant an extension of time, or to entertain a request to reopen the hearing or to grant any other request of the owner or the owner's agent.  Each written notice of findings and order of the Hearing Officer shall contain a statement advising the owner, or the owner's agent, of the limitations of the Hearing Officer as set forth in this section and also, of the appeal procedure set forth in this chapter.
   (l)   Upon service of the Hearing Officer's notice of findings and order, an aggrieved party may appeal the decision of the Hearing Officer to the Appeal Board.  The aggrieved party must file an appeal of such order within 30 days from the date of service.  The aggrieved party shall file a written request for an appeal of the decision with the City Clerk.  The Appeal Board shall conduct a hearing at its next regularly scheduled meeting, no less than thirty days and no more than sixty days from the date of the Hearing Officer's Notice of Findings and Order.
      (1)   The Council shall appoint a five-member hearing Appeal Board, which shall consist of the following:
         A.   Two citizens;
         B.   Individual registered as a building official, plan reviewer or inspector under the building officials and inspectors registration act, Public Act 54 of 1986, being M.C.L.A. §§ 338.2301 to 338.2313.  The individual may be an employee of the enforcing agency;
   C.   Registered Architect or Engineer;
         D.   Building Contractor.
      (2)   The Appeal Board shall adopt rules governing the hearing, including but not limited to, the length of oral presentation, the number of Board members that shall constitute a quorum, the time and location of the appellate hearing(s).
   (3)   The Council may appoint the City Engineer and an Architect as members of the Board for three-year terms initially.  The Council shall appoint the two citizens for two-year terms initially and the Council shall appoint the contractor for a one-year term initially.  Thereafter all appointments shall be made by the Council for terms of three years, such that the Board shall have staggered appointments to its membership with all terms after the initial appointments being three- year terms.
(Ord. 2004-10.  Passed 8-2-04; Ord. 2005-29.  Passed 7-19-05; Ord. 2005-32.  Passed 9-20-05; Ord. 2009-05.  Passed 4-21-09.)