A Schaumburg man forced to live in his driveway by the lack of utilities in his cluttered home is hoping a community cleanup of his property this Sunday will help him avoid a court order next Friday allowing the village to forcibly remove his belongings.
John Wuerffel, 62, of 1427 Hampton Lane was told by Cook County Associate Judge Hyman Riebman Friday that such a court order is on the way unless he can free his home from the clutter of recyclable items within seven days.
A jury found Wuerffel guilty earlier this month of violating village ordinances requiring both the inside and outside of homes to be kept sanitary and free of rubbish.
Riebman immediately sentenced Wuerffel to $1,200 in court fines but said he would not immediately grant the village's request for a cleanup order.
Photos presented in court Friday showed some changes on Wuerffel's property since the trial -- a tidier driveway with vehicles neatly covered and a backyard whose own clutter was arranged much less chaotically.
No new photos were shown of the interior of the home -- where recyclable items have been stacked to the ceiling -- but village officials stated they had no reason to believe there have been any changes.
"In (Wuerffel's) eyes, he feels he's done an enormous amount of work," Health Inspector Mary Passaglia said. "But in the village's eyes, it's been very little."
Riebman concurred that the new photographs demonstrated "convincing evidence that the nuisance still exists."
Wuerffel has disagreed the most with the village's demands to clean up the interior of his house, saying it's taking advantage of a legal loophole that allowed officials to enter the home at all.
Earlier this year, while the house was in foreclosure proceedings by HSBC Corp., both the mortgage company and the village believed the house might have been abandoned.
In fact, Wuerffel was spending the winter out of town and in local PADS shelters. When those homeless shelters closed in the spring, Wuerffel began sleeping in one of the vehicles in his driveway.
In considering how to handle the threatened court order, Wuerffel and Schaumburg Police Social Worker Linda Young decided the best way was to accept the public's help that has often been offered and hold a community cleanup of the property beginning at noon Sunday.
Young said she and another social worker will be on hand to insure the event attracts only true volunteers and not gawkers.
Wuerffel has said he has even been approached by the A&E television show "Hoarders" after his case came to national attention during the summer.
But he is resistant to the village doing the cleanup because he said on a previous occasion where it received such a court order, it threw out items of true value.
Wuerffel already has a couple of storage spaces rented but is planning to acquire more in anticipation of this weekend's cleanup.
Having been out of work and suffering from bad health in recent years, Wuerffel said the recyclable items he collects and sells are his only source of income.
Village officials say they want to work with Wuerffel and intend to treat the cleanup of his property sensitively. But they said they pursued the matter in court because they believe the rights of his neighbors to live in a clean environment are being violated.