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posted: 8/18/2015 5:30 AM

Glen Ellyn neighbors slam colorful paint job as retaliation in dog waste dispute

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  • Shortly after neighbors complained about the dogs at this Glen Ellyn home, and police issued a ticket, a resident painted one side of the exterior in yellow, orange and purple. "I'm just concerned because if they can do this, what else?" neighbor Leigh Van Heule said.

      Shortly after neighbors complained about the dogs at this Glen Ellyn home, and police issued a ticket, a resident painted one side of the exterior in yellow, orange and purple. "I'm just concerned because if they can do this, what else?" neighbor Leigh Van Heule said.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • "It's kind of got to a boiling point," Denise Harrington said about a dispute in a Glen Ellyn neighborhood that prompted residents of this house to put up this colorful paint job.

      "It's kind of got to a boiling point," Denise Harrington said about a dispute in a Glen Ellyn neighborhood that prompted residents of this house to put up this colorful paint job.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 

A dispute among neighbors over dog waste in a usually sleepy Glen Ellyn neighborhood apparently prompted the owners of the dogs to respond in a very public -- and colorful -- way: They painted one side of their house in bright shades of yellow, orange and purple.

"It's a slap," neighbor Leigh Van Heule said of the paint job. "It's absolutely a clear message of retaliation."

The saga began earlier this summer when neighbors of the house on the 400 block of Longfellow Avenue began complaining about the number of dogs living there, their aggressiveness and the stench from dog feces in the yard.

It escalated when neighbors complained to police, who on July 24 issued a ticket to 55-year-old Julie A. Dombroski for having four large dogs living in the house -- one more than is allowed by village code. Dombroski had to pay a fine, according to court records.

A day after the ticket was issued, a man in his 20s or 30s painted the siding -- row by row -- in bright hues, neighbors say. A second coat of paint went up a day later, drawing a gathering of stunned neighbors.

The rest of the house remains a stark white, but the painted wall directly faces a well-manicured home where residents have been among those raising concerns about the dogs and smell.

Patricia Amabile, who lives in the house facing the freshly painted wall, says she's at "a loss of what to do."

A man who answered the door of the painted house Friday morning declined to comment, and messages on the home's answering machine Friday and Monday weren't returned.

Village codes regulate the exterior appearance of apartments, town houses and commercial buildings, but not single-family residences, Planning and Development Director Staci Hulseberg said in an email.

Amabile and other neighbors say they've tried to talk with the dog owners, but they refuse.

"We don't have to like each other," Amabile said. "We just have to be civil. That's what everybody wants."

"All this stuff has just been disrupting the whole neighborhood," said Denise Harrington, whose backyard faces the rear of the home.

"It's not just the paint," said Van Heule, who lives across the street.

Neighbors say the man who owns the house grew up there and kept to himself. The problems, they say, surfaced when Dombroski moved in with her grown children about 2½ years ago and got the dogs.

It's unclear how many dogs are now living in the house; Van Heule said the residents now bring the animals out one at a time.

Harrington said the residents didn't clean up after their dogs all summer and let the weeds grow knee-high before finally mowing after police paid a visit.

"On a hot day, it's horrible," Harrington said of the smell.

"My yard today -- it smells," Amabile said Monday.

Worried about a health hazard, neighbors contacted the DuPage County Health Department. The department's environmental health services received a complaint regarding dog waste July 31, department spokesman Dave Hass said.

The department conducted an inspection that day and handed down a violation against the property owner, who has until Aug. 31 to clean up the waste, Hass said. He wouldn't name the person, citing privacy laws. Inspectors will follow up to check on compliance.

The dogs, apparently German shepherd and Lab-pitbull mixes, also are known for getting loose in the neighborhood, neighbors said. In 2013, a contractor working at the home was bitten by a dog and received a couple of stitches, police said. Harrington said her dog also was bitten on the nose, suffering a "big gash."

"All we wanted was for them to take care of their yard and take care of their dogs," she said.

As for the infamous wall, neighbors say they're hoping to persuade the homeowners to repaint it -- in just one color.

"I'm just hoping in the long run a good resolution will come," Van Heule said.

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