Change made to property upkeep plan

CHAMPAIGN – In response to a resident's complaint about firewood storage, the city of Champaign has modified a proposed revision of the city's property maintenance code.

Debra Karplus, 605 W. Columbia Ave., C, appeared at the Nov. 1 Champaign City Council meeting, where the council was set to adopt the 2003 International Property Maintenance Code for the city.

Karplus explained that she heats her home in the winter with firewood and the proposed code would have limited her to storing 2 cords of wood on her property. That amounts to a pile about 4 feet high and 16 feet long.

Karplus said that amount would last her about two months, and that wood she uses needs to season for at least a year or two before it is burned. She said she stores considerably more on her property than 2 cords.

Council members then tabled the property maintenance code vote for two weeks.

Susan Salzman, Champaign's property maintenance supervisor, said the proposed property maintenance code has now been revised to allow for unlimited storage of wood, but under specific conditions.

Under the revision, wood would have to be stored in a resident's back yard and must be screened by vegetation, a fence or a building or other structure to not be visible from the public right of way. Wood also cannot be stored higher than 4 feet tall or wider than 4 feet in depth.

"We're not limiting the amount, we're limiting the placement," Salzman said. "We don't want it to be so tall it's dangerous. It's a compromise. This was done at city council instruction to try and make it a little more reasonable."

Karplus declined comment.

The property maintenance code will come up for a vote at Tuesday's city council meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

Also Tuesday, the city council will consider its adopting a $15.9 million property tax levy for taxes payable in 2006. City finance officials believe that the levy will produce a property tax rate of $1.312 per $100 of assessed valuation, the same rate the city has maintained in recent years.

The levy represents a 17 percent increase over last year's levy.

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