Officials in Michigan have fined soul singer Aretha Franklin for failing to remove a tennis court at the site of her Detroit-area home, which burned down.

The $225 (GBP140) fine, issued yesterday (24SEP03), is the latest in a battle between the singer and Bloomfield Township officials over clean-up responsibilities following the 25 October (02) blaze at her Oakland County home.

Franklin had received three prior citations from township officials for failing to promptly clean up the debris outside the ravaged mansion. Along with demolishing the tennis courts, officials also want her to remove other debris from the lot.

Without a house on the lot, township property should look like country land, "not a vacant lot," says TINA BURTON, code ordinance enforcement officer, told the Detroit Free Press.

Also, once the site is cleared, it must be seeded or sodded, says Burton, noting it's "a mud mess now".

Franklin, 61, issued a statement yesterday thanking state attorney general MIKE COX, who declared on Monday (22SEP03) that no charges would be filed against Franklin's son. Officials had investigated EDWARD FRANKLIN, 45, as a suspect in the fire.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. singer Aretha, who owns two other homes in Bloomfield Township, was on tour in Texas at the time of the fire that nearly gutted the $1.2 million (GBP750,000) mansion.

25/09/2003 21:30