Neighbors dispute contention St. Charles home site is unsafe

Two neighbors who visited Cliff McIlvaine’s home during an open house last weekend testified Thursday they didn’t think the place was unsafe.

Russell and Melissa Smith, who live several doors down on Sixth Street in St. Charles from McIlvaine, toured an unfinished garage and its basement, and a solarium.

“In fact, my 8-year-old daughter brought in a dandelion while we were there (in the garage) and I wasn’t afraid that she was there,” said Melissa Smith. She said she has lived near McIlvaine for almost six years, but hadn’t formally met him until the open house.

McIlvaine is defending himself in a hearing requested by St. Charles officials, who say the property is unsafe, with debris, an unfinished roof, an exposed electrical cable and other incomplete work. St. Charles officials have asked Kane County Judge David Akemann for permission to either tear down McIlvaine’s buildings, or finish his 37-year home-improvement project themselves and bill him for the work. He missed an April 1 deadline to finish interior plumbing and electrical work and install two garage doors, and has not finished the roof.

Testimony wrapped up Thursday and arguments will be heard at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

McIlvaine again asked Akemann to visit the property before ruling, saying he would “applaud” the judge for doing so, even if Akemann ultimately ruled in favor of the city.

McIlvaine also took the stand. Akemann reminded him several times throughout the hearing that he was to testify or ask questions only about the current condition of the property, not about the history of the project and the legal battle.

“The court’s real interest is in what happened from that point (when McIlvaine signed an agreement saying he would finish the project by October 2012) to the present, and more importantly, the current condition,” Akemann said.

McIlvaine and his friend, Jim Webb, a construction company owner who volunteered to help McIlvaine finish the project, testified many of the piles the city considers hazardous are construction materials that will be used. Webb also testified McIlvaine has yet to decide whether to pour a concrete floor on the main floor of the garage, and acknowledged the garage is filled with material.

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