City gets OK to step in, finish McIlvaine project

St. Charles homeowner Cliff McIlvaine will have to keep his hands off his home improvement project for a while now that a Kane County judge gave the city permission to finish some of the work.

Judge David Akemann Friday agreed with the city that some things on the property at Sixth and Prairie streets are unsafe and dangerous. The city argued McIlvaine has had ample time to complete the addition and roofing, and that previous orders, such as fining him $100 a day for every day the project is past deadline, haven’t done anything to get him to speed up the 37-year project.

Akemann ordered that electrical work be done first due to the potential for electrocution.

The city then can get busy doing the other work, including installing a conventional, asphalt-shingled roof.

McIlvaine disputed the city’s contention the current unfinished rubber membrane roof could allow water in, saying there is no evidence of mold or mildew.

“And if you put a conventional roof on it will destroy the whole integrity of the project,” McIlvaine said. “Maybe it would be better if the city tore it down.”

The city will also finish brickwork and flashing around windows and doors, install a fire-rated door and wallcovering on the garage portion of the addition, and remove piles of items, including vehicles, that it believes are unsafe.

Akemann cautioned the city, however, that it is only to remove items based on safety, saying he was “trying for minimal intrusion by government” on private property. It is “not aesthetic issues. That is a different kettle of fish,” he said.

The city must store property it removes, unless it is obvious trash. McIlvaine asked if he could choose the location and Akemann said “no.” Attorney Phil Luetkehans said the city might arrange for storage with Jim Webb of Royal Builders, McIlvaine’s friend who previously agreed to supervise the project under a 2011 consent decree.

Luetkehans, who said the city doesn’t have a start date, also said the city might try to hire Webb to complete the work, and McIlvaine said he was OK with that.

Once the work is done, the city will attach a lien to the property to recoup the costs and fees.

During closing statements, Luetkehans said that while McIlvaine argued that many of the delays were caused by the city, McIlvaine never asked for extensions, which he was allowed to do under the consent decree.

“The reality of it is, he cannot stay out of Royal Builders and Jim Webb’s way. ... He cannot trust anyone to do this but himself,” Luetkehans said.

McIlvaine admitted his designs are unique.

“This project is not a simple project. It takes a long time,” he said, noting there have been churches in Europe that were under construction for hundreds of years.

Akemann strongly admonished McIlvaine to not interfere with the work.

“I won’t interfere. I respect your decision,” McIlvaine said.

“I want it to be peaceful,” Akemann said.

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