County orders 4 properties in Old Scottswood neighborhood cleaned up

County orders 4 properties in Old Scottswood neighborhood cleaned up

URBANA — Champaign County officials have sent notices to four homeowners in the old Scottswood neighborhood just outside Urbana, warning them to clear their properties of accumulated trash, debris and/or multiple inoperable vehicles.

The four properties — at 206 and 404 S. Dodson Drive, 2420 E. Illinois St. and 2423 E. Elm St. — were tops on a list for neighborhood complaints, according to county Zoning Officer Jamie Hitt.

Owners of another two properties in the same neighborhood may be receiving similar notices, pending a review in progress at the county Planning and Zoning Department, she said.

The notices inform the property owners why they're in violation of county ordinance and that they have 15 days to respond with a proposed remedy to clear away the blights on their properties, Hitt said.

"Then I work with them on the amount of time that they're given," she said.

The first four notices were sent out last week, and as of Tuesday, Hitt said, she had gotten a response to just one. The caller wasn't the property owner, though. It was a man who told her he's working to help clear away lawn mowers, parts and inoperable vehicles from outside the home, Hitt said.

Those who don't reply to the notice will be sent a second notice, and then they'll have another week to respond before their cases are turned over to the state's attorney's office, Hitt said.

In some cases, tracking down someone who can do something about the violations remains a challenge, she said. One of the four homes is in foreclosure action, and the owner no longer has access to the home.

County ordinance allows for one inoperable vehicle per address, provided the vehicle is parked in a driveway or screened from public view, Hitt said.

The old Scottswood" neighborhood, profiled in the Nov. 12 News-Gazette, is generally bordered by Washington Street on the south, South Dodson Drive on the west, Main Street on the north and Scottswood Drive on the east. The map below shows the neighborhood and the houses that were cited:

The area has been in a gradual decline, especially over the last 10 to 15 years, according to longtime resident Yvonne Sadler and several of her neighbors.

Sadler said the county sending out some notices "sounds good" — but it has also been five years since she originally complained about the debris and inoperable cars in the neighborhood to county officials.

Now, she said, "I'm not sure it won't be five years before that bus is hauled away."

Michael Van Pelt, a more recent homeowner in the neighborhood, said he and his neighbors have been to three county board committee meetings complaining about a lack of enforcement for property messes.

He told county officials if they weren't going to enforce the laws, then he would start raising hogs in his own backyard, he said.

The notices the county sent out represent some progress, Van Pelt said.

"It's just going to be slow," he added.

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catsrule wrote on December 13, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Scottswood has been rapidly declining for more than 25 years, not the 10 - 15 years referenced. The City of Urbana has failed to make a case to the residents for the benefits of annexation. Additionally, Urbana hasn't unilaterally sought to acquire properties which would provide an opportunity to involuntarily annex Scottswood. This represents a failure to manage both the quality and potential for growth as well as add roughly 2,500 citizens to its population. In the meantime, growing communities such Champaign, Bloomington or Normal (btw, Normal's population now exceeds that of Urbana by more than 10,000 residents) adopted policies to encourage annexation as a way manage the quality of growth and address long term infrastructure planning on their peripheries. The residents of Scottswood bear some responsibility as they've been fixated on the potential tax increase associated with annexation without regard to long term infrastructure requirements. Today, Scottswood lacks sidewalks, sufficient streetlights and its roads are usually in poor condition. There are many substandard and blighted areas in north and northeast Urbana in addition to Scottswood (adjacent to north Cunningham Ave) which won't offer much growth potential absent dramatic changes.

Homeboy wrote on December 13, 2017 at 5:12 pm

I bet the homeowners are shaking in their boots after getting a cleanup letter from the county. We saw how that played out with the two houses down in Yankee Ridge. What was that time frame? About twenty years?

aantulov wrote on December 13, 2017 at 10:12 pm

More than the city would have ever done. Lucky they are in the county. The city just approved to get annexed a trailer park packed close with barely any drainage without due diligence- beyond lax, beyond lazy. They promise but enforce nothing except what will bring in the cash. Thank you county board!