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posted: 5/11/2012 5:48 PM

Noxious smelling house could be demolished

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  • Vernon Hills has been granted permission to demolish this home in the Stone Fence Farm subdivision, which long has been the source of odor complaints.

       Vernon Hills has been granted permission to demolish this home in the Stone Fence Farm subdivision, which long has been the source of odor complaints.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

A lengthy legal fight regarding animal-related odors emanating from a Vernon Hills house could be coming to a close.

Village officials will consider bids from demolition contractors to take down the single-family house on Brook Hill Lane in the Stone Fence subdivision and expect to be ready to proceed June 1.

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"It's not totally final but it's quite close," said Village Manager Mike Allison. "We'll be prepared for the eventuality of the demolition going forward."

Lake County Circuit Judge Mitchell Hoffman on Thursday found homeowner Lisa Sliwa in default and granted an order allowing the village to take all actions necessary to demolish the house, although the actual demolition can't begin until after May 31.

The order also allows a representative of Doral Money Inc., the mortgage holder, to accompany village officials on an inspection of the house as part of the demolition bid process.

The house for years has been a source of concern for the village, because of noxious odors neighbors said could be smelled from their homes and were disrupting their activities. Village inspectors logged their first report on May 13, 2010.

"It took some time," Allison said. "The first step in the process was to get permission from the court to enter the premises."

Village inspectors wearing protective clothing and respirators noted 18 violations when they examined the house on Aug. 12, 2011 and declared it unfit for human occupancy. Those included a strong odor of animal urine and fecal matter saturated into floor sheathing and walls in several rooms, according to the report, as well as two feet of standing water in the basement, mold and issues with the electric service.

"At that point, we were able to determine the structure was not habitable," Allison said.

The basement windows were boarded up and utilities shut off. The house has remained vacant since. Sliwa's attorney, John W. Quinn of Grayslake did not return a call for comment.

Cassie Horvath, who lives across the street, said the odor is still detectable but not as offensive as in the past.

"It's good news there will be a resolution. I still have sadness about the whole issue," she said. "It is bittersweet."

The village board is expected to discuss the status of the lawsuit in closed session during its regular meeting Tuesday and vote on a demolition contract in open session.

"Our goal is to have everything lined up and ready to go," Allison said. "The big thing is addressing it as quickly as we possibly can."

The estimated cost is expected to be about $30,000, which will be charged to Sliwa as a lien on the property. The village also has been cutting the grass and will include that among the charges.

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