Judge won't allow St. Charles a look at long-unfinished home

A Kane County judge this morning denied the city of St. Charles' request to search for code violations in the interior of a home that's been under some form of construction since 1975.

However, Judge Michael Colwell did sign off on allowing city workers to inspect an addition at the home of Clifford McIlvaine at 605 Prairie St. on the city's near west side.

The city's push to search McIlvaine's home for possible code violations is part of an effort to see that his project gets done soon, said Phil Luetkehans, an attorney representing the city.

“It's an eyesore to the neighborhood and we believe most likely it's a safety issue,” he said. “Our position is it's unsafe and needs to be finished,”

The city during the next three weeks plans to inspect some 2,150 square feet between McIlvaine's home and a 100-foot-long by 50-foot-long concrete wall he erected in an L shape around part of his home.

McIlvaine, according to his attorney William Foote, plans to knock out walls on the home and expand it outward toward the L-shaped wall.

Luetkehans argued that McIlvaine's home has been under construction since 1975, that McIlvaine himself admitted it was not done and based on several code violations outside the home, the city had probable cause to look for more inside the home itself. He said McIlvaine has refused to let the city officials on his property since at least 1980.

Foote disagreed, saying McIlvaine was protected under the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure and that his client offered to let the city inspect the addition.

“It's a fishing expedition,” he added.

Colwell agreed, saying he found no grounds to allow the city a search warrant. Colwell also said the project needs to be finished soon.

Foote conceded that McIlvaine doesn't have a timeline to finish the addition.

“Naturally, we're pleased (with Colwells' ruling) and hope to cooperate with the city to avoid future litigation,” Foote said. “It's a question of money, it's a question of time and he always thought that as long as he was working on it, it would not be a problem.”

McIlvaine attended the hearing, but Foote did not let him answer questions posed by reporters. Two weeks ago, McIlvaine said he prefers to “build things and build them so they last.”