Fittest loser
Article updated: 8/25/2011 3:55 PM

St. Charles, man reach partial deal on 36-year project

St. Charles officials and resident Clifford McIlvaine have reached an agreement about fixing most of the building code violations the city sued him over. McIlvaine has had a home-improvement project going since 1975 at 605 Prairie St.; the city said the building permits for that expired in 1976.

St. Charles officials and resident Clifford McIlvaine have reached an agreement about fixing most of the building code violations the city sued him over. McIlvaine has had a home-improvement project going since 1975 at 605 Prairie St.; the city said the building permits for that expired in 1976.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2010

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St. Charles city officials and resident Clifford McIlvaine have reached an agreement about him finishing his 36-year-old home-improvement project.

Kane County Circuit Judge Judith Brawka signed off on a consent decree Aug. 2 setting a schedule for repairs and projects to be done by October 2012, including cleanup. It includes "significant milestones" specifying when certain work has to be done at the property at 605 Prairie St. For example, McIlvaine must demolish a temporary tarped roof by the end of this week. A judge will hear reports on the status of the project on eight specific dates through July 2, and monthly thereafter until the work is done, according to the order.

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The city in turn gets to inspect the work on the addition, the relocation of a garage, and the new roof.

The city and McIlvaine are still at odds over whether he can use rainwater for his indoor plumbing. McIlvaine has dug a cistern in an addition to the house, storing rainwater collected off the roof. The city does not consider that a potable water supply and maintains he is required to connect the house to the city's water system. There is a Sept. 12 trial date on that issue.

The construction work is to be done by a contractor, Royal Builders, hired by McIlvaine, according to plans designed by Norris Architect Inc. and Hunter Trankina, structural engineers. The city has approved the plans.

McIlvaine received building permits in 1975 and 1976 to move a garage, build an addition to the house and put a new roof on the house and the addition.

The city sued McIlvaine in November 2010, charging he had not let city officials inspect the construction project. It maintained the permits, issued under the city's 1965 building code, expired one year after issuance. McIlvaine disputed that.

The city argued that, based on what it could see from the public rights of way and neighbor's complaints about the property, it was logical to assume there were building code violations inside the buildings.

The complaint also maintained that little work had been done on the exterior of the house or garage since 2007, except for a temporary repair to the house to prevent raccoons from entering.

Judge Michael Colwell ordered McIlvaine to let the city inspect the garage and the addition to the house, but not the original house itself.

The city also argued the project endangered the public's safety, and was a blight on the neighborhood. Construction debris, trailers, old cars and other items were in the yard for years.

The work will have to meet current building code standards.

If McIlvaine completes the work satisfactorily, the city agrees to dismiss the complaint, and to not seek fines or reimbursement of attorney costs. The city had sought fines of $750 per day.

In a November 2010 interview, McIlvaine refused to say what he was building, and said it was taking so long because he was doing the work himself.

"I'm an independent thinker," he said. "I like to build things and build them so they last. When you build something fast and cheap, it destroys itself."

Another lawsuit

Meanwhile, on Monday McIlvaine sued the city on a separate matter. He is appealing a city hearing officer's July 21 decision regarding an alleged city code violation on the parkway of the property. McIlvaine was fined $500. In his appeal, McIlvaine said he told the hearing officer he was not the owner of the property referred to in the notice as "parkway" or as a "parcel adjacent to the parkway." He asked for a continuance to provide evidence to that effect, but was denied.

His request does not detail the nature of the violation. Messages have been left for the city building inspector and for McIlvaine.

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