St. Charles homeowner settles lawsuit over decades-old addition
A 6½-year legal dispute between a St. Charles homeowner and the city finally came to an end Thursday when Cliff McIlvaine paid $55,000 in fines for failing to complete a home addition that languished for decades.
The case highlighted push and pull between an individual's property rights and municipal housing regulations designed to protect community safety and property values of neighbors.
Phil Luetkehans, an attorney representing the city, said the lawsuit shows the city will act to protect residents from situations that can negatively affect property values.
"We will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the laws and ordinances of the city are followed," he added.
The city sued McIlvaine in late 2010 to force him to complete an addition at his home on the 600 block of Prairie Street. The initial permit for the work was issued in 1975.
McIlvaine signed a document agreeing to perform work and correct safety issues but quickly fell behind and was even jailed for two weeks for contempt of court after he refused to connect to the city's water supply.
After a lengthy hearing in spring 2013, Kane County Judge David Akemann ruled the city should take over the project, install a conventional asphalt shingle roof and other improvements, and send McIlvaine the bill.
After the project was completed, the city sought some $215,000 in fines. McIlvaine contested, reducing them to a little over $100,000.
McIlvaine, wearing his trademark denim coveralls, told Akemann on Thursday that he settled only because it would cost less than an appeal. "It would be cheaper than going to an appellate court because I know we would have won," McIlvaine said.
Outside court, McIlvaine and his attorney, Philip Piscopo, said the city had imposed additional requirements onto the original consent decree, such as building an exterior stairwell onto McIlvaine's garage and requiring him to buy and assemble a storage shed for his construction materials stacked about his yard.
"The consent decree goes both ways," Piscopo noted. "Mr. McIlvaine was supposed to do things and the city was supposed to do things. It's important to mention that."
Luetkehans said every requirement imposed was to protect the community as a whole.
"The fact that we settled for the amount we did shows we weren't trying to single (McIlvaine) out," Luetkehans said. "These 'additional requirements' that Mr. McIlvaine is saying we imposed were nothing more than imposing the life, health, safety requirements that the rest of the citizens of St. Charles have to live with. And the court agreed with us and ruled for us on every one of the issues that were litigated."
McIlvaine and the city are next due in court on May 31 to have a final dismissal order entered. McIlvaine is still suing a roofing company as he argues his roof leaked and his possessions were damaged.