Urbana inspector to check rural apartment complex
URBANA — City officials on Monday night agreed to lend a building inspector to the county to check out a potentially dangerous apartment complex on U.S. 45 south of Rantoul.
The so-called Jones Building, a two-story, 16-unit building next to the troubled Cherry Orchard apartment complex, is suspected to be unsafe and could be demolished if the inspection reveals conditions to be bad enough.
The apartments are outside of the city borders and under the authority of the county. But the county does not have its own building inspectors — nor does it have a building code — and that is why it needs a city inspector to provide a basis for further action if county officials want to pursue a demolition.
"It doesn't help Urbana to have problem properties near our border," said Community Development Director Libby Tyler.
In return, the county could help the city recover more than $5,000 in liens against Osococo Inc., a company owned by son and father Bernard and Eduardo Ramos. Several years ago, the city cited the brothers for a number of city code violations in other buildings, and the liens represent fines left unpaid by the company.
The Ramoses also owned the Cherry Orchard apartments when it was shut down by county health officials in 2011. They had been in the process of buying the Jones Building from K&S Property Management of Champaign.
The Jones Building and Cherry Orchard shared the same septic system, which local health officials cited as inadequate and a health hazard when they closed Cherry Orchard in July 2011. Raw sewage was standing on top of the ground at the complex and effluent was running into a nearby farm field.
Tyler called it a "quid-pro-quo" agreement with the county and beneficial to both. Tyler said the city is also hoping the county might use the experience to look at building codes and maybe start putting together its own inspection department.
"We've been interested in getting the county to adopt additional regulations to deal with problem properties," Tyler said.
This story contains corrected information about the relationship of Bernard and Eduardo Ramos.