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Article updated: 5/29/2013 5:03 PM

St. Charles getting bids on work for decades-old home project

Cliff McIlvaine, who was sued by the city of St. Charles in an effort to get him to finish a project he began in 1975, stands on a landing between his original home to the left and new, super-insulated addition on the right.

Cliff McIlvaine, who was sued by the city of St. Charles in an effort to get him to finish a project he began in 1975, stands on a landing between his original home to the left and new, super-insulated addition on the right.


Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

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Nearly four weeks after a judge gave the city of St. Charles permission to fix code violations and finish parts of a resident's home addition stalled for decades, work has been incremental. That, though, could change soon.

Crews have buried a power line in homeowner Cliff McIlvaine's backyard. hired a contractor to complete a staircase and will be getting bids next week on a roof.

Bob Vann, manager of the city's building and code enforcement department, said a work crew May 15 buried an electrical cable that McIlvaine had running from his home to a detached garage at his home on the 600 block of Prairie Street.

Vann said McIlvaine did not try to stop the crew from burying the wire.

"He obviously watched and made sure it was put in a certain way. He's cooperative," Vann said. "It actually went better than I thought. Of course, burying an electrical cable is not a difficult job. But it needed to get done. I think Cliff has come to the realization that we're going to be out there doing work."

The city sued McIlvaine in late 2010, arguing he had not let the city inspect his property since he was first issued a building permit in 1975. The two sides eventually inked an agreement to have McIlvaine finish his project by September 2012, but he missed numerous deadlines and refused to connect to the city water supply, landing him in jail for two weeks for contempt of court.

Frustrated with a lack of progress, the city went to court three weeks ago and won a court order from a judge to make repairs, fix safety code violations, complete an exterior stairwell and finish installing a roof.

Vann said the stairwell contractor, who he declined to name, hopefully would start work next week and that the project could be done in a few days. The city also is getting bids on the roof and hopefully will be in position to proceed two weeks from now, he said.

"We don't know what's underneath that (roof) membrane. That has to be taken off," Vann said.

For years, McIlvaine had what he called a "temporary" rubber membrane covering the roof. McIlvaine wanted to install a custom, super-insulated roof made out of fiberglass, foam and Spanish terra-cotta shaped steel.

He argues a conventional roof, which the city wants to install, would ruin the energy efficient design of his home and destroy a quarter-inch thick layer of fiberglass that is under the membrane.

McIlvaine, who also is being fined $100 a day for code violations, said the work is all part of the city's plan to force him out of his home and use his radio tower and concrete-lined garage as an emergency command center.

"It's just one thing after another. Every time I prove them wrong, they find something else (wrong)," he said. "They're destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars of work I've done already."

City officials have said they just want the project finished. Both sides are due in court July 12 to update a judge on their progress.

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