Landlord must clean up act

Landlord must clean up act

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Hardly a picturesque scene, the property at 1014 N. Winnebago contains an assortment of tall weeds, broken glass and a garage and a camper scorched from a fire.

At the May 21 Rockford City Council meeting, Alderman Dick Goral (D-7) questioned why the city has failed to enforce ordinances throughout two years for the property at 1014 N. Winnebago, owned by Linda Miller.

City ordinances specify that grass can’t be more than 12 inches high, and garbage can’t accumulate.

Goral is the president of Roosevelt United Neighborhood Association, and he is also a member of the Council of Neighborhood Organizations. He ran for alderman to work with the city to combat the area’s run-down properties. He noted the boarded-up houses are bad enough, but some people’s homes are as bad as the board-ups.

Jennifer Cacciapaglia, a city attorney, claims that city department head leaders have collaborated in the past month to solve the problem. The city will file a petition in circuit court by June 1. Goral wondered why, all of a sudden, the city is pursuing the matter.

The city ordered Miller to appear at code hearings twice, in January and February 1998, but she failed to attend.

The city considered cleaning up the property themselves. “Most of it’s behind a locked fence,” Cacciapaglia indicated. “We can’t do that.”

Cacciapaglia said that because Miller missed the hearings and because a judge has more authority than a hearing officer, the city is filing the petition. The judge can invoke fines and possible jail time.

“We think it’s a serious enough situation, since they have ignored every contact,” she said. “It’s something that, however, is going to be a slow process because court dockets are full.”

City of Rockford notices in front of Miller’s house indicate that she has violated ordinances since 1999. In the late 1990s, former Alderman Ed Akre (R-11) broached the idea of placing signs in front of properties to draw attention to “lousy” landlords, Goral noted.

The city has posted ordinance violation signs at about eight to 10 properties in front of them.

The sign at Miller’s house states: “The owner has been found liable for violating city codes, and by choosing to not comply, is responsible for this blight in the neighborhood.” The sign has been there since August of 1999

Goral said, “My problem is, why are we so far behind on getting things done and following through on these things? What’s the sense of putting the signs up?”

“Neighbors are complaining,” Goral said. “They said now that I’m alderman, can I get something done? And here I am.”

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