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Article updated: 9/27/2012 3:45 PM

Fix up home or tear it down, judge tells former Palatine leader

By Kimberly Pohl

Former Palatine Councilman Warren Kostka must decide whether to tear down his dilapidated home or proceed with extensive repairs to the property, a judge said Thursday.

With a group of frustrated neighbors looking on, Cook County Judge Margarita Kulys Hoffman told Kostka he needs to come up with proposals, cost estimates and a timeline for the work, and in the meantime clear any trash from the site.

The latest development in Palatine's ongoing legal battle to clean up Kostka's violation-ridden property at 108 N. Forest Ave. isn't moving quickly enough for some, however.

Palatine attorney Patrick Brankin said Kostka should have to get remaining issues -- from missing siding to a driveway in disrepair -- into compliance.

"This is all self-inflicted," he said of the violations.

Village officials and neighbors, who want to see progress before cold weather delays work, also dispute Kostka's claim that the violations are simply cosmetic and pose no danger to residents' safety or welfare. Besides hurting property values, they point to sidewalk flooding and odors from compost piles.

"It's gotten to the point that I'm worried for my children's safety," neighbor Pamela Panczyk said.

Kostka's attorney said it makes no sense to spend money on repairs, only to raze the structure shortly after. Kostka hired an architect and structural engineer, whose report cited serious problems with soil differentiation and the home's foundation.

Kostka later said the cost of repairing the property would equal that of a new house. He blames the problems on flooding he said started 25 years ago with the separation of Palatine's stormwater and sewer systems.

"The house is ruined and the village could care less," Kostka said. "I agree that even I don't want to look at my house. This is a failure on Palatine's part."

Kostka is due back in court Oct. 24 for a status hearing.

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