ENGLEWOOD — Property maintenance issues appear to be an ongoing issue in all area municipalities and Englewood is no exception to that rule.
City officials have attempted to get two properties cleaned up voluntarily by the owners, but after several failed attempts have decided to take action.
“Code enforcement have done their level best to get these two properties cleaned up voluntarily and by the time that these issues reach council we’ve pretty much given up,” said City Manager Eric Smith. “We are not getting the satisfaction we deserve as far meeting regulations of the property maintenance code.”
The city passed a resolution to take immediate action to abate what city officials deemed nuisance properties located at 803 Albert Street and 207 Northeast Circle.
Councilman Jim Silko said he was familiar with the Northeast Circle property after hearing from several neighbors about the conditions of the property and the nuisance it has created. Silko inquired about the property at 803 Albert specifically asking how long ago trouble began with that property.
William Singer, director of the building and zoning department said the problems began last year. He said there are issues with the garage door, a fence and a dying tree on the property.
“We have asked the owner to take action to maintain his property,” Singer said. “We took him to court and Vandalia Municipal Court issued a warrant block which prevents him from renewing his license on his auto tags. We asked him again to please make the repairs, but he has yet to do it.”
The city will now use its own service department staff to go on the property to clean up debris, fix the fence, and remove the dead trees and other issues.
Mayor Patricia Burnside noted that during the last election cycle when she was obtaining signatures for her nominating petition, the one thing people repeatedly mentioned to her as their top concern was property maintenance.
“Most of the time it was not a specific property, but just generally speaking,” Burnside said. “Some people were concerned about rental properties, but we can’t tell somebody that they can’t rent their house out, but that was a general concern… property maintenance on a citywide basis.”
Councilman Marlyn Flee noted that both properties in question appeared to be occupied.
“What happens next week when we haul away a load and the trash gets back out on the porch. How long does it take does it take for us to get back in there and do something more? Is there an end to that?” Flee asked.
Singer said that this action by the city was definitely one of the last actions the city wants to take, by actually going in and cleaning up a property.
“We really try to get compliance,” Singer said. “Ninety nine percent of the time when we send somebody a letter, they take care of it. It’s just the nature of the beast that a few situations that we have the inability to get the owner to comply. If it’s something where a property had a lot of debris on it and we go in and clean it up, yes it could come back. If needed we would bring further action back to council in order to make an effort to make things happen.”
Singer said that dead trees are something that could be dealt with, but without authorization from city council nothing could be done about the fence and the garage door. The current legislation would only allow city crews to clean up the property once. If the property fell into disrepair again the entire process would have to start all over again and could take months before further action could be taken.
“Usually when we do this the folks know that we are really serious and will come back, so they usually take care of it the second time,” Singer said.