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Rules for estate sales altered in Bloomfield Hills

By Kevin Elliott


Bloomfield Hills City Commissioners on Tuesday, September 13, approved an ordinance amendments that would extend the length of estate sales to a maximum of three days and permit for advertising on social media.


City commissioner Lauren Fisher said the issue had been discussed at several commission meetings, prior to coming before the commission on September 13 for formal action. She said extending estate sales from two to three days would help the sales be more effective.


“I think the companies that are most respected, and most respectful toward police and neighbors, are also people that aren’t willing to do it in Bloomfield Hills for two days,” she said. “They can’t get what they think residents deserve in terms of revenue.”


Robin Cohen, with AOM Estate Sales in Bloomfield Hills, said many of the homes where estate sales are conducted include fully furnished homes and large collections that take more than two days to sell.


“I happen to be doing an estate sale in the city this week. It’s a 10,000 square-foot house, and the owners have homes in other states, so they are taking almost nothing,” Cohen said. “I have 98 percent of the house still furnished, and it’s going to be impossible to sell that in two days.”


Cohen said the two-day restriction doesn’t allow her to serve Bloomfield Hills clients as well as she could if the number of days were extended. She was one of several estate sale providers and residents who spoke during the meeting who were in favor of the ordinance changes.


Kris Bower, president of the Trowbridge Farms Homeowners Association, also said she was pleased with the proposed changes, and recommended allowing garages or storage areas to be used during estate sales when appropriate items are being offered for sale.


“In my neighborhood, the sales have garages open because there are lawn tools and things like that, and to relocate those things in the house isn’t reasonable,” Bower said.


Bloomfield Hills Mayor Susan McCarthy agreed, but said items shouldn’t be visible from the street, nor displayed on the drive or lawn.


“We don’t want things spewing out of the garage and ending up on the driveway and things like that,” she said. “If it’s a garage item, then it’s a garage item.”


City commissioner Alice Buckley said estate sales often upset neighborhoods due to the amount of traffic and parking they attract.


“There was an estate sale near me and it was very distressing,” she said. “I’m sure it was done in accordance with the law, but we have very narrow streets, and if you’re extending it to a third day, you’re cutting into a weekday where people are trying to go to work in the morning and come home at night.”


Buckley said when an estate sale was held on her block, she was unable to drive down her street and park at her home.


“I think we need to look at the purpose of this ordinance,” she said. “It’s really to protect the residents, and to protect everyone’s rights, not just the people who are conducting the sale.”


City commissioner Brad Baxter said while he recognizes large estate sales may be disruptive to neighbors, he said processes recently put in place by the police department to control parking and traffic disruptions will be helpful. Further, he said “good neighbors” typically coalesce during hardships.


“My neighbor recently had a death in the family, and as a good neighbor, I think I would be willing to put up with a little inconvenience so they could do what they need to do to liquidate the estate,” Baxter said. “Us worrying about inconvenience because someone parked on my grass or is blocking something – as a good neighbor, it’s not a problem for me.”


Commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of approving ordinance language to extend estate sales from two to three days; to allow advertising through social media; and permit the use of garages and outbuildings, granted the items aren’t visible from the street. McCarthy, Baxter and Fisher voted in favor, with Buckley opposing and commissioner Sarah McClure not in attendance.

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