Neighborhood by-laws show racist language

Posted at 5:42 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 14:42:08-04

This story begins in a Bloomfield Township neighborhood, known today as Wing Lake Farms. The large subdivision was born as Sly Farms nearly 70 years ago.

When the homeowners' association recently sent a resident a copy of the 1947 deed restriction agreement--it was the second restriction that sticks out.

Restricting homeowners from selling or renting to, "any person not of the pure, unmixed, white, Caucasian gentile race."

It continues, "Except that an owner or tenant of the premises may employ servants thereon who are not of the pure unmixed white Caucasian gentile race."

We went to the county and got our hands on the original agreement, which shows the Wing Lake Farms Association has not yet updated the offensive document with the register of deeds.

We went to the township supervisor.

"We don't defend them.... and I would tell that resident you need to go back to your neighborhood association and say this is unacceptable to me," says supervisor Leo Savoie.

The township says it can cost a neighborhood association thousands to update the deeds, so many often don't.

Trustee Neil Barnett is also an attorney. He says those outdated clauses are nothing more than offensive language that would never hold up in court.  

"On paper it doesn't look good, but its not enforceable." He says, "Even in my homeowners association where I live, the deed was from 1928 and it has offensive language."

The township and the county both stress, they have no say over the content of those agreements.

Wing Lake Farms Association responded after seeing our report, stressing that updated by-laws call the controversial section regarding race, "immoral and illegal".

They acknowledged however, the original language continues to be distributed and they have failed to pay the necessary and often expensive fees to erase the language.