Landlord trial delayed till next month

By PAM G. DEMPSEY / CU-Citizen Access

CHAMPAIGN – The trial of a Champaign father-son landlord team scheduled for Monday has been continued to Feb. 28.

The pair, Bernard Ramos and his father, Eduardo, have yet to comply with an agreement they made with the Champaign County Public Health Department in December to vacate five of the eight buildings at Cherry Orchard Apartments, a complex south of Rantoul. The Ramoses oversee the property, which is mainly used to house migrant workers.

As of Monday, two of the five buildings are still occupied, said Julie Pryde, administrator of the health department.

The agreement is part of an ongoing three-year-old case the health department has brought against the two for failing to connect the property's sewer and septic system legally.

The health department's case is based on a September 2007 complaint where inspectors noticed sewage and wastewater flowing from the property's septic system into a nearby farm field.

When approached for comment after Monday's hearing, Bernard Ramos shook his head no. He hung up when contacted later by phone.

The health department took measures earlier this month to assist residents who remained in the complex. The Salvation Army and health department officials have helped some tenants find temporary housing.

Public health administrators want to see the property vacated until a legal septic system is in place, assistant state's attorney Susan McGrath said.

The state's attorney's office plans to file an additional complaint on behalf of the county's planning and zoning department for violations of the county's revised nuisance ordinance at Cherry Orchard Apartments, said Christina Papavasiliou, assistant state's attorney who is representing the county. This would be the first complaint filed under the revised ordinance, which better defines dangerous structures and allows stronger enforcement when life and safety are endangered.

The trial is now scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 28.

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