A Detroit City Council committee Thursday morning tabled a debate over the controversial sale of 1,956 vacant lots to Hantz Farms, a company owned by financial services magnate John Hantz, due to concerns over the ownership and zoning of several of the lots.
Hantz Woodlands, a division of Hantz Farms, wants to buy about 170 acres on Detroit's east side to plant 70,000 trees in order to grow and harvest timber. The deal has been opposed by some activists and city residents who call it a land grab.
The Planning and Economic Development Committee delayed discussion because they wanted more information on several sticking points. Part of the concern comes from a city offer to let homeowners on 108 neighboring properties buy adjacent lots.
"We feel if those properties are available to the adjacent property owners," Rory Bolger of the Detroit City Planning Commission told the committee, "it may not be wise to authorize the sale of those properties to Hantz Woodlands, and then have to go back and either rescind or revise the authorization."
The committee was also concerned about legal issues tied to roughly 10 acres of land located in the Kercheval-McClellan urban renewal zone, which is supposed to be used for retail development.
Council member Saunteel Jenkins, who chaired the committee, wanted the city's Planning and Development Department to provide council with a written explanation of how they planned to address these issues. The committee is scheduled to take the matter up again next week.
Look below to see how trees and other plants are being used to remediate soil in Detroit.