Neighbors complain about vacant La Grange house
The eave is severely damaged over a back room of a vacant house at 431 Edgewood Ave in La Grange. | Jane Michaels~Sun-Times Media
What to do
If a La Grange resident notices a problem with maintenance on a nearby property, he or she is urged to file a complaint with the village, which is logged into the computer system and an inspector will check out the property.
“If there is a minor violation, like not cutting the grass, we place a door hanger notice on the home,” said Patrick Benjamin, Community Development director. “We check back in five days, and state statute allows us to proceed if the grass is over 10 inches and then place a lien on the property if they don’t pay the bill.”
Details of how to file a complaint online are at the village’s website at www.villageoflagrange.com. For more information, call the Community Development Department at (708) 579-2320.
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:32PM
LA GRANGE — For more than a decade, La Grange neighbors have complained about a vacant home in disrepair at 431 S. Edgewood Ave., and they may have to wait a little longer for relief.
Curtains flutter in the breeze behind two broken windows in the front of the two-story brick home, built in about 1940. The back yard is overgrown with weeds and bushes, and piles of yard waste remain from an abandoned attempt at clearing the rear of the property.
The eaves extending out over a back room are rotted with gaping holes, which neighbors fear allow access to critters. At times, the grass has grown taller than 10 inches, prompting the village to notify the owner and then have the grass mowed.
“We have called the village so many times, but we’re told the owner pays the taxes,” said Rose McBride, who lives across the street.
McBride said she and others have offered to buy the home from Robert McCarey, who lives in California and holds the property in trust, but he has turned them down, she said.
Earlier in the summer, neighbors were hopeful someone was about to buy the property and tear down the house when efforts were made to clear the overgrown back yard. But progress halted abruptly, exposing the eyesore further, she said.
Neighbors said they’re worried about animals seen in the yard including rabbits, birds, raccoons, mice and coyotes.
“I can’t believe this would continue for so many years,” McBride said.
Patrick Benjamin, director of community development, said the village is well aware of neighbors’ complaints.
“We have roughly 50 or 60 violations we could be citing them with at this point,” Benjamin said. “How many counts we proceed with depends going forward.”
There are property owners’ rights on both sides, Benjamin acknowledges, and the village must proceeding according to authority granted nonhome-rule communities allowed by state statute.
“Our No. 1 priority is to gain voluntary compliance,” he said. “Sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t. Then unfortunately you have to go through the legal process.”
John Kenney, village prosecutor, said the village was awarded $10,320 in 2007 for property maintenance code violations, which swelled to $14,000 with late penalties.
“The fines were paid off earlier this year, but since the previous violations were issued, new violations have occurred, and those are what the village is dealing with now,” Kenney said.
Kenney said he is working with an attorney for Robert McCarey to get the violations rectified.
“We are hopeful he will work cooperatively with the village, and if he does not, we will consider filing new legal proceedings,” the prosecutor said.
An answering machine wasn’t available to leave a voice message for McCarey, and he didn’t return emails.
Although the village can step in and mow the grass, it doesn’t have similar authority to repair the broken windows, Kenney said.
“The village has to follow the law on these things and the code we have in place,” he said.