St. Charles' $215,000 in fines, fees too stiff in Cliff McIlvaine case?

  • Cliff McIlvaine contends the city of St. Charles is excessively fining him.

    Cliff McIlvaine contends the city of St. Charles is excessively fining him. Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer, May 2013

  • Cliff McIlvaine, who was sued by the city of St. Charles in an effort to get him to finish a project he began in 1975, stands on a landing in May 2013 near an addition he built on his home.

    Cliff McIlvaine, who was sued by the city of St. Charles in an effort to get him to finish a project he began in 1975, stands on a landing in May 2013 near an addition he built on his home. Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/20/2015 9:37 PM

Is the city of St. Charles being too heavy-handed in seeking $215,000 in fines and attorney fees against a homeowner who first began a construction project in 1975?

Or did Clifford McIlvaine bring it all upon himself by failing to complete the work by September 2012, a date that he originally agreed to with the city?

 

A Kane County judge in early June will begin to sort out the latest chapter in the McIlvaine case, which began when the city sued him in late 2010 in an effort to inspect his home on the 600 block of Prairie Street.

McIlvaine has since completed the work, but not before dozens of court hearings and even two stints in jail for contempt of court.

McIlvaine signed a "consent decree" to finish the work by September 2012 but missed numerous deadlines in spring 2012 and was jailed for contempt of court for failing to connect to the city's water supply.

A judge also decided that McIlvaine be fined $100 every day the project was behind the schedule for September 2012 completion.

City officials asked for, and were granted, permission in May 2013 to take over and complete certain aspects of the project, such as installing a conventional asphalt shingle roof.

After a brief court appearance Monday, McIlvaine's defense attorney, Philip Piscopo, said he believes the city is, indeed, being too harsh.

"There have been some changes in faces since the ($100-per-day fine) order was entered," Piscopo said, noting the May 2013 judge's decision to have the city take over part of the project.

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"It's hard to catch up when you're not allowed to be on the project," Piscopo continued. "I don't think the city is entitled to anywhere close to what they're seeking. (McIlvaine) doesn't think it's fair. He thinks they're trying to take his house away."

Of the $215,000, $64,200 comes from fines and $31,322 was for the roof. The remainder, nearly $120,000, is for fees paid to attorneys to represent the city of St. Charles on the matter, according to court records.

The city dropped its complaint against McIlvaine in January.

Phil Luetkehans, an attorney representing St. Charles, said McIlvaine brought the situation upon himself when he failed to comply with the original agreement.

"We didn't cause any of this. Mr. McIlvaine didn't do the work," Luetkehans said. "If he could have complied with the original consent decree, there would be no attorney fees, no fines. Obviously, he didn't care. However much the judge decides, the judge will decide."

The case is due back in court on June 3.

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