Tag: Housing

Maywood Likely to Demolish 12 Hazardous Properties

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A former auto repair shop at 1142 S. 17th Ave. that could be torn down if the village board authorizes fast-track demolition on March 7, which it’s likely to do. | All photos by Village of Maywood 

Thursday, March 2, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 12:54 p.m.

During a March 1 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously to consider authorizing village staff to demolish 12 vacant properties that village officials have deemed unsalvageable and threats to public safety. The board is likely to approve the measure at its next regular meeting on March 7.

Most of the vacant properties are single-family homes. One property is a former auto repair shop located at 1142 S. 17th Ave. Village officials said that the owners of the properties have been unresponsive to calls to repair the properties.

The village will utilize a process called “fast-track” demolition, which allows municipalities to bypass the courts and demolish properties, no higher than three stories, that are “open and vacant and determined by the Village to be continuing hazard to the community,” according to a recent memo drafted by the village’s contract law firm, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins. The board approved the process last July.

Attorneys with KTJ have stated in the past that they “do not generally recommend the use of the fast-track demolition process due to concerns about due process and its general constitutionality,” the memo adds.

There are, however, some exceptions in which the legal risk of using fast-track demolition  is relatively small and the process is appropriate; particularly, in cases where the owners of properties that are “demonstrably dangerous or unsafe” appear to have abandoned them.

“These properties have been an eyesore and create an immediate danger,” said Assistant Village Manager David Myers during Wednesday’s LLOC meeting.

Myers said that the village has budgeted $15,000 for demolitions and was recently awarded $75,000 in grant money to use for demolitions. In addition, Myers said, Cook County will assist during the demolition of the 12 selected properties.

Myers added that the first priority of village staff with respect to vacant and abandoned properties is to determine whether or not the properties can be salvaged and, ultimately, restored. In the case of the 12 listed for demolition, he said, that wasn’t a possibility. Myers said the village had tried contacting owners and had spent money maintain the properties.

The fast-track process requires the village to notify the owners that the properties need repairing. That notification is then followed up by a letter to each owner warning them that, if they don’t repair the properties, then the structures will face demolition. The owners have 30 days to respond and, if they don’t respond with that time, the village has 120 days to demolish the properties, Myers explained.

Myers added that there are more properties throughout the village that could probably be subject to fast-track demolition in the future.

The board voted 4-0 to move the matter to the next regular board meeting to put the authorization of the fast-track process to a binding vote. Trustees Antonette Dorris, Michael Rogers and Ron Rivers were absent.

Maywood properties scheduled for fast-track demolition 

1304 S. 21st Ave. 

2108 S. 8th Ave. 

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440 S. 14th Ave.

1205 S. 16th Ave. 

1242 S. 16th Ave.

1142 S. 17th Ave. 

1817 S. 20th Ave. 

419 S. 21st Ave. 

1248 S. 21st Ave.

1420 S. 21st Ave.

1821 S. 21st Ave. 

1825 S. 22nd Ave. 

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When a Garage Collapses in Maywood …

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 || By Michael Romain || EDITORIAL || Updated: 6:21 PM

There’s an abandoned house at 900 N. 8th Avenue with a garage that has been in slow collapse for some time. Residents who live near the home have reported that it has been broken into and has become a magnet for rodents and, at any given time, may harbor squatters. In the delipidated garage, there’s an abandoned car that sinks in unison with its surroundings. The home was first brought to my attention in September 2014 — more than six months ago. It was even included in a post highlighting various public works deficiencies in town.

At the time, at least one resident in the area had reported the property to the village and requested the home be declared vacant and boarded up. According to a resident, village officials said they would add the property to some unspecified ‘to do’ list.

In September 2014, the structure looked like this:

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As of April 20, 2015, the structure looked like it does in the photos below:

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There may have been measures that were taken by the village to address this problem. Indeed, the home may have been added to a ‘to do’ list. The village could have declared the home abandoned without residents knowing it.

But this isn’t the point.

The point is that residents who live near a property that is literally collapsing in on itself have no knowledge of what the village plans to do with the property, because no plans have been communicated to residents in the area.

There have been no regular status updates even for residents who have expressed to village officials their concerns about the property.

Where is this aforementioned list, for instance? Who among the public can access it? If I lived next door to this house, I’d want, at minimum, to know that my local government had a plan for what to do with it (and properties like it) if not immediately, then at some reasonable point in the future. It would be nice, for instance, if I could keep track of that list as the village checked off problem properties. I can’t imagine a measure like this costing a lot of money to implement.

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But by most Maywoodians’ accounts, I can rest comfortably in assuming that nothing remotely approaching the above is taking place. And that it isn’t taking place isn’t simply because the village is broke or various departments, such as code enforcement and public works, are undermanned.

Besides, government officials communicating with the residents they purport to serve shouldn’t be considered a zero-sum cost. It should be considered an investment that yields dividends over the long run — both in dollars and in social trust.

To begin to restore that trust among residents, whatever department is responsible for maintaining the list that one resident referenced should make it public, so that citizens can see what, if any, progress has been made in dealing with Maywood’s nuisance properties.

That department should also make available a detailed, reader-friendly, description of its process for dealing with residential complaints, in general, and complaints about derelict properties, in particular. I’d be happy to publish this document and even promote it via Facebook and Twitter to as wide, and as willing, an audience as possible. Heck, I’d even help with the draft, if none exists presently.

If a property slowly rots in a state of post-apocalypse for more than six months and no village official seems to be around to deal with the blight, does it matter? To the people who have to live near it — it does. And it is to them the village owes an explanation for why, after several months of residents complaining, this property still looks like it belongs to a place where the sound of civilization — of mutual trust, of healthy dialogue and two-way communication — has ended. VFP