Piatt County Board members were sympathetic Wednesday to the plight of a Milmine resident who lives next to abandoned property, but warned that help may not be immediate due to a complex array of legal, financial and jurisdictional issues.
"I agree we need to to something," said board chairman John Lyons of the four-lot property that includes a dilapidated house and a brick structure that once housed a bank. At one time there was also a grocery store on the land. "The problem is right now I have no money in my budget to take care of this particular problem."
Darlene Poague, who lives next to the property, has fought for several years to get it cleaned up. State's Attorney Dana Rhoades said some work had been accomplished through nuisance violations, but that all work had stopped since owner Mary McGee died. That has made it difficult from a legal standpoint because county officials are not sure whom to take to court.
"I don't know where else to turn," said Poague, adding that Cerro Gordo Township officials had balked at addressing the property due to potential cost. The township has officially asked the county for help on the issue.
Poague provided a bid of $630 to mow two of the lots. Board member Thomas Dobson said a contractor gave a rough estimate of $20,000 for demolition of the two structures, but that the possibility of asbestos in the home's shingles could drive up that cost.
Rhoades said the county has the option of obtaining a demolition lien to work on the property, but would have to absorb the cost. The county also could try to take ownership and sell a cleaned-up lot, but there is concern regarding possible underground fuel tanks.
Lyons suggested a meeting be set up between the county board and Cerro Gordo Township officials to try to come up with a cooperative effort that would share cleanup costs. He added that there are other dilapidated properties that may need similar attention, so a special tax levy may be needed if the county is to incur ongoing costs.
The county will also consider funding for cleanup efforts when budget talks begin in August for the fiscal year that begins Dec. 1. The issue will also remain on the county board agenda for discussion next month.
Also Wednesday, the county board approved a request to increase a ceiling on possible legal costs to fight the siting of a chemical waste landfill at the Clinton landfill.
City of Champaign Assistant Attorney Joseph Hooker requested the maximum figure be raised from $30,000 to $38,000.
Eight Central Illinois governmental entities are part of a consortium that is sharing those costs. Their concern is that the chemical waste landfill would sit atop the Mahomet Aquifer, which provides drinking water for about 750,000 central Illinois residents.