EFFINGHAM — The owner of a property that city officials believed was still being utilized in at least some capacity, was given 15 days to come up with a plan to correct a number of health and safety issues.
If not met soon, the city will deem it dangerous and unsafe and ask the court to take action.
During this week's Effingham City Council meeting, Building Official Michelle Wilkins and City Attorney Tracy Willenborg told the council that the property at 323 Austin Ave. has a number of issues, including that dogs have been living in the home and there is no power.
After investigating the exterior and interior of the property owned by Corey Dasenbrock, it was found to be dangerous and unsafe. City officials say there is garbage, insect infestation, evidence of animal feces, the roof over the porch is falling down, soffit and fascia of the house has fallen, areas of the roof are sagging, there is evidence of openings in the foundation and overgrown vegetation around the property.
When conated by a reporter, Dasenbrock said the property is being sold.
“I have it sold,” said Dasenbrock. “It will be sold in the middle of next week. Nobody has lived there for a while.”
Dasenbrock said he thought the new owner planned to tear down the house and possibly build something in its place.
He added that he relayed that information to the city building official on Friday, which she confirmed Dasenbrock “indicated he was selling the property.”
During Tuesday's council meeting it was explained that under the ordinance the city is authorized to proceed to seek the demolition, repair, enclosure or remediation of the property.
“Under the dangerous and unsafe statute there are a lot of different alternatives we can take,” said Willenborg. “In this case, the property isn't vacant. It is being utilized and being resided in to a degree, and being visited on a daily basis to take care of dogs.”
Willenborg said Ameren shut off the power and noticed dogs living there, so they checked back about two weeks later and the dogs were still there. The dogs were being fed, she said. Animal control was notified, as was the city about the pets being inside.
However, prior to that the city had contacted the owner about the condition of the property.
“It is evident that the dogs have been there by themselves for a while,” said Willenborg. “If it is not vacant, we are more limited in what options we can take.”
Willenborg said the city can give the property owner and all lien holders that they come up with a plan to correct all of the issues and violations. If they fail to do so, the city can ask the Effingham County Court either demands the property owner to fix the issues, or allow the city to do so and place a lien on the property for all expenses incurred.
“If it were not to the degree that it is now, we feel we need to take a quicker stance,” said Willenborg.
It was reported on Tuesday that Wilkins and Willenborg have tried to communicate with the property owner in a less formal approach, but without much response.
Wilkins had asked that the owner provide a plan of remediation, but there was no response before Tuesday's meeting.
Dawn Schabbing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-347-7151, ext. 138