October 11, 2005 at 10:34 AM CDT - Updated July 27 at 2:55 AM
New ordinance forces property clean-up By: Carly O'Keefe
MARION, IL -- It's now the law in Marion, Illinois. If you own an abandoned, dilapidated building, you better make some changes or you may not own it much longer. The Marion City Council passed a collection of ordinances designed to clean up the city, but fining residents for not cleaning up junk in their yards or tearing down abandoned, dilapidated structures that pose a hazard to the community.
Neighbors who live near buildings they call eyesores are pleased that the city plans to clean up the town.
"I have to walk out and see that mess everyday of my life. It's been a mess for years," said Marion Resident Robin Hood.
Hood is your average working guy. He's proud of the home he and his family has lived in for about ten years. He admits he has what he calls "normal clutter" in his front yard-- a couple of benches, potted plants and some garden ornaments. But according to him, the house next door is nothing but clutter.
"It makes you sick every day, makes you not want to go outside and clean your own yard," Hood said.
The house he's referring to is 1108 Hendrickson Street. The building has stood vacant for quite some time. Marion Fire Department officials confirm it's caught fire twice. Hood says the abandoned home attracts vandals and squatters and he says it has put his family in danger on a number of occasions.
"Someone was in there a couple weeks ago... caught the place on fire. After it caught on fire last march, it almost put my wife and son in the hospital for a long time, because they got smoke and chemical inhalation," said Hood.
Marion's new ordinance will force property owners to take steps toward cleaning up dilapidated buildings.
"We're serious about this," said Marion Mayor Bob Butler. "Not only will we make them do what they ought to do already, if they don't, we will also see that they be fined or lose their property or both."
The city will demolish structurally compromised buildings if the property owner doesn't take steps to correct the problem. Then if the owner doesn't reimburse the city for the cost of demolition, the city will foreclose on the property and sell the land to someone else to re-coup expenses.
Hood says he'll gladly put up the money to buy the land just to get rid of the eyesore next door.
"The city can sell it to me and my wife, we'd love to have it, turn it into a playground for the neighborhood kids instead of something negative," Hood said.