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Judge rules St. Charles may proceed with repairing McIlvaine’s property

Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

ST. CHARLES – Officials from the city of St. Charles say they are hopeful that Friday’s court ruling will be one step closer to mitigating safety hazards at the home of St. Charles resident Clifford McIlvaine.

After closing arguments in a decades-old case, Kane County Judge David Akemann ruled in favor of the city of St. Charles on Friday afternoon, allowing the city to proceed with repairing McIlvaine’s property at 605 Prairie St., St. Charles.

“I and the city both believe the judge listened to the evidence and made a very clear, clean ruling in compliance with the law,” said Phil Luetkehans, an attorney for St. Charles.

“Hopefully, we’re one step closer.”

McIlvaine started the project in 1975. The city sued McIlvaine in 2010, pushing him to get the project finished. A work schedule later was agreed upon in court. City officials have wanted McIlvaine to comply with a court order to finish the project. Luetkehans said McIlvaine has missed several construction completion deadlines that were set up by the city.

City officials now will start the process of correcting several items deemed unsafe and dangerous because they create fire hazards, opportunities for mold to grow or places for insects, rodents and other vermin to reside.

Luetkehans said the city plans to correct an unfinished roof; remove debris and construction materials in the front lawn; add flashing and brick to windows and doors; add a stairwell guardrail; add a stairwell to a second exit from the structure; and cover exposed electrical wiring.

The city now can remove materials from the yard and place them in a storage facility of the city’s choosing. McIlvaine said removing construction materials from his property would violate his constitutional rights, and Akemann said the materials will be removed, not destroyed.

“This is about making a situation that’s unsafe and dangerous not dangerous and unsafe,” Akemann said.

During closing arguments, McIlvaine contended that the city repeatedly has stood in his way while he worked to complete the project, noting that he had been jailed for two weeks last year and said the city changed the roof design, slowing the roof portion of the project.

“They have done everything they can to make this project fail,” he said.

Akemann said his ruling was largely based on testimony from Bob Vann, the city’s building and code enforcement division manager and Brian Byrne, of the St. Charles Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau, who both said the property was unsafe.

Luetkehans said the city hopes to complete the project as soon as possible.

He also said the city intends to work with Jim Webb from Royal Builders to complete the project, which Webb’s construction team has been working on.

“We hope to have a conversation with Mr. Webb. Our preference is to have him complete the project,” Luetkehans said.

In the meantime, Akemann made it clear that McIlvaine cannot interfere with the city carrying out the court’s order.

McIlvaine said he wasn’t surprised by Friday’s outcome.

“I expected it,” he said. “... I respected [Akemann’s] decision.”

Luetkehans said no future court dates have been set, but expects a future court date to include discussion about a lien against McIlvaine’s property.

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