Why owners of former Pheasant Run Resort face fines of as much as $6,000 a day
Owners of the shuttered Pheasant Run Resort may be fined as much as $6,000 a day starting now as a St. Charles administrative adjudication officer Friday found them liable for building code violations at the heavily damaged property.
"I don't think Pheasant Run is clueless as to what they need to do," officer Sam Bonilla said. In particular, he agreed with city officials that the owners aren't doing enough to prevent people from getting into the buildings.
The city alleged the resort had eight violations, including having unsafe structures and equipment; failing to demolish unsafe property; failing to maintain interior and exterior structures and exterior property areas; failing to maintain a fire protection system; and having an accumulation of garbage and rubbish. Bonilla ruled the city can levy a fine of up to $750 per day on each allegation.
Patrick Griffin, the attorney for St. Charles Resort LLC, told Bonilla the owners never received a detailed list from the city of what needs to be done to eliminate the code violations.
The city began enforcement in February, and the last adjudication hearing was Aug. 21. The city issued a 15-day notice of intent to sue for demolition on Aug. 28.
Griffin also said the owners postponed a structural evaluation of the buildings, figuring it didn't make sense to do one if the building was to be demolished. If the city proceeds with the lawsuit, the owners won't oppose the demolition, Griffin said after the hearing.
The owners already have agreed to board up all windows on the main, 14-story tower building, not just those on the first and second floor, Griffin said. They have obtained cost estimates for demolishing part of a barn, shoring up two smaller buildings, and reinforcing a wall in the barn.
But, as for keeping people out, "there is a limited number of things we can do," Griffin said.
Allen Fennell, the city's assistant director of community development, said some progress has been made but added, "Actions taken on the property to date is not enough."
The resort opened in 1963 and closed in 2020.
In May 2021, four teenage boys broke in, and two of them set a fire in the tower. It spread to several buildings, causing extensive damage.
On Aug. 19, there was another, smaller fire in the tower. No one was hurt in either fire.
And on Aug. 28, five trespassers got onto the roof of the tower. They were charged with misdemeanor trespassing.
Police Chief James Keegan said authorities also have removed a rope found tied to the roof, which they believe may have been used to rappel off the building.
"It's (the site) is hazardous," he said Friday afternoon. "We have zero tolerance on it. They (trespassers) will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The city council could vote to sue for permission to demolish the buildings. It could recoup costs by putting a lien on the property, to be paid when the site is sold, according to state law. The property owner also could get a demolition permit and raze the resort itself.