Before relinquishing control of Detroit, EM Kevyn Orr abolished Citizens’ District Councils

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Before Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr relinquished control of city government last week, he quietly signed an order abolishing citizen groups that have long played a role in the direction of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Kevyn Orr
Kevyn Orr

Orr eliminated Citizens’ District Councils, which are made up of elected and appointed residents who live in areas “where rehabilitation and redevelopment activities are proposed to take place.”

CDC members expressed shock and said the councils are an important link between residents and government.

“Our city has lost a quality instrument for ensuring residents have a voice of any kind regarding development in their neighborhoods,” said Rev. Dean P. Simmer, vice-chairman of Corktown Citizens’ District Council. 

Simmer said Corktown CDC “has been very active in responding to zoning and planning requests in our neighborhood. We have had the privilege of hearing from many recent new business owners in the neighborhood, considered their proposals, and provided a neighborhood voice to the Board of Zoning Appeals in each of these cases.”

Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said the CDCs hampered growth.

“It was felt that the CDCs created an unnecessary level of bureaucracy that was hindering future development and revitalization efforts,” Nowling said.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office declined to comment.

For a more in-depth look at CDCs, check out this WDET segment.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.