Code enforcement committee

Photo by Carla Waters

Code Enforcement Officer Bill Stanley and Building Inspector Eric Brandt report to the Watseka City Council Code Enforcement Committee.

Work is progressing on several buildings in Watseka.

Watseka aldermen heard from building inspector Eric Brandt Tuesday.

More handicap parking may be needed at the Department of Motor Vehicles, along with a ramp.

Alderman Dave Mayotte said that there is some confusion as to whether that was a requirement from the State of Illinois or from the city.

He said he and Brandt will be investigating the matter.

There were enough handicap parking spaces when the building was used as a gas station, Mayotte said. However, now that it has a different use there are more parking spaces in general and more may be needed.

“We’ll have to look at the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) requirements,” Mayotte said.

Brandt said, too, that O’Reilly Auto Parts is moving along. The latest thing is that the foundation is completed. The weather could start to hamper that project.

The Gas Depot project is also moving along, he said. “They are progressing with the interior; putting the interior down,” he said.

“Lines of communication are open,” he said.

Alderman Dennis Cahoe said he had received several complaints about the trash that has been blowing around in that area. “I noticed that there’s no dumpsters on site, which one is required. And, how much more tree cutting are we going to allow? They are plumb to the road.”

Mayotte said all of that is completed.

Cahoe said that area needs to be cleaned up immediately. “Clean it up or stop the project,” he said, noting that the trees that were cut this past summer have not completely been cleaned up yet.

Some properties in town have issues that need to be dealt with by the owners. Brandt said he sometimes has luck getting in touch with owners and then there are times when the owners won’t respond.

He has started sending out letters to the property owners.

Alderman Benny Marcier said written correspondence should be done at all times now. “That’s what got us in to trouble for the past five or six years,” he said. “We can’t do verbal anymore. It doesn’t work.”

Four properties that were part of the flood mitigation grant through Department of Natural Resources will be torn down soon, Brandt said.

Two more are ready for closing. He said that he would like to do them four at a time.

Appraises are moving along on the rest of the properties, he said. Some that have been sent to the state are waiting to be approved at that level.

Code enforcement officer Bill Stanley also spoke about the work he has been doing in the past month.

There are abandoned properties in the 300 block of Victory and 100 block of East Ash that neighbors are complaining about. The landlords cannot be found, he said, though they are still trying to find them.

Cahoe said the city should start court proceedings on all three properties. The committee voted do just that 7-0 with Alderman Mark Garfield and Alderman Darrin Rushbrook absent.

The committee asked Stanley to condemn the properties.

Stanley said, too, that he has had issues with some landlords who say he is not being fair to them. “I’ve issued their tenants tickets,” he said, “twice, and they’ve been ignored; for junk vehicles and other matters. So I cite the landlord. I looked it up in the statue and that’s what it says who is ultimately responsible. One came to court last month and asked for more time because it wasn’t fair, that his tenant won’t listen to him. Well it is fair and it’s his problem. The other guy says the house I’m citing him for he’s selling on contract. I contacted the assessor’s office and his name is still on the property.”

The committee also agreed that the assessment listing is what is the official record of the owner. Mayor John Allhands said that he would also like to see that landlords who are selling property on contract must tell the buyer that the property has been flooded or has specific issues.

Stanley said that there are several fines that have not been paid by people who have been cited. The committee agreed to go back to file liens to collect the outstanding fines. He said that some of the properties have multiple fines. He said he has been working on that list and will report back.