Posted July 12, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Kultra Ootsman insists she’s not one of those people.
You know, the type who takes every neighborhood complaint and marches straight to Village Hall demanding answers. But she said she and her Gates Creek West neighbors are at their wits end over an unoccupied neighboring home gutted by fire last year that’s causing havoc on their street with every storm.
Monday’s storm caused the tarp covering the roof to come off and 2 by 4s were thrown around the neighborhood with a long piece of wood piercing the side of Ootsman’s home.
“The home was so poorly boarded up after the fire, now every time it storms, and it doesn’t have to be a bad storm, we get debris all over the neighborhood,” Ootsman said.
The home at 505 Meadowwood Lane was empty last June when it was struck by lightning and heavily damaged by fire. Ootsman said the homeowners were just days from closing on the sale of the home when it was hit.
According to Kendall County Assessor’s records the home is still owned by Earl and Tricia Witte who were the previous residents. Further records show that a foreclosure proceeding on the home was canceled May 16.
All that doesn’t matter much to neighbors like Joni Probst who just wants some answers.
“We can’t live like this anymore,” she said Monday afternoon.
Interim Village Administrator Dwight Baird said there is little the village can do to force the clean-up and repair of the home.
“We’re very limited on what we can do on private property without a court order,” he said. “This is a very slow process.”
A ticket was issued in March to the homeowners for failure to upkeep the home. Baird said it was never paid.
Building & Zoning Manager Patricia Lariviere said another ticket was issued Monday. Lariviere also said she is working with Wells Fargo Bank to discover who is currently responsible for repairs to the home.
“All that we’re able to do right now is issue fines,” she said. “The village does not have the authority to go in and demolish these homes, unfortunately. … We’re doing everything we can.”
The village does have the ability to put a fence around a damaged home like the one . Baird said that home was unable to be secured and had become a public safety issue.
The Meadowwood Lane home is secure, but the home’s roof was previously covered by the tarp, which was placed on the home last year, Baird said. Baird visited the neighborhood Monday night and talked to residents.
For their part, both Ootsman and Probst said they are considering hiring an attorney to find out what legal recourse they might have. Meanwhile, Probst said despite damage to her home’s siding from Monday’s storm, she won’t be filing another insurance claim.
“I’ve been told that if we file another one we’ll lose our policy,” she said.
Village President Brian LeClercq said he also planned to talk with neighbors.
“I understand it’s very frustrating when the local government can’t do much to help out,” he said. “But we walk a fine line with private property rights.”