By Randy Pierce
NEW BADEN – Living next to someone who has a yard filled with what she described as “junk” is so troubling to a New Baden woman that she addressed her complaint to the village board of trustees on Monday evening, January 7, of this week but the response she received was not what she wanted to hear.
Accompanied by her adult son at this meeting, the complainant said she has been living in this community for 54 years, the last two of which have been very upsetting for her because of the situation with the property next door.
As things stand where the village is concerned now, little can be done to address this matter because the items cluttering the yard in question cannot be defined as trash or garbage plus these things are continuously being moved around the property.
The village’s “hands are tied” from a legal standpoint, according to Mayor Christy Picard and Building and Zoning Official Jerry Green, because of the movement factor regarding the items in the yard and that they cannot be considered disposable like would be the case if it was a standing pile of trash or debris. Green stated he sympathizes with the resident addressing the village board but no violation of local ordinances or laws currently exist at this location.
Village Attorney Doug Gruenke said he would review the ordinances to see if there is any legal ground to stand on concerning this matter but he could offer no guarantee that the results of his research would offer any means of resolving the concerns expressed.
With New Baden not having state authorized home rule powers because of its size and previous local public elections which did not approve same, Gruenke said, there are few options that exist for what the village can do about this complaint. The municipality’s authority, because of the lack of home rule powers, is limited in this regard.
Compounding the situation is the fact that the male who resides at the property with the items in the yard does not own it because his sister does. The complainant’s son described the appearance of the property next door to his mother as a “disgrace” and commented that they cannot understand why nothing has been done to mitigate the problem.
The individual who is the target of the complaints, according to the pair talking to the village board about it, also mows his lawn at times when others may be sleeping, like during the early morning hours, and has been outside as late as 10 p.m. using a noisy chain saw to cut limbs from trees in the yard.
This aspect of the situation may give the village a possible approach in terms of prosecution but it is not a certainty because there is currently no legislation in place to address disturbances created by noise as what Picard said she is aware of that exist in other municipalities. Nor would moving ahead with any noise complaint action have any impact on the appearance of the yard.
Green said such things as standing water, which can be a factor in the breeding of mosquitoes, may be addressed in regard to code enforcement and Chief of Police Scott Meinhardt commented that if the woman would call in regarding disturbing noise during the late night or unusually early morning hours, he would be willing to pursue it through the state’s attorney’s office but there is no assurance that it would stand up in court.
In other announcements and decisions made at the New Baden Village Board of Trustees Monday evening:
–The next meeting of the board will be held on Tuesday, January 22, instead of the third Monday of the month as usual because of the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday holiday then;
–A meeting of the Tax Increment Financing District #2 Joint Review Board was set for Thursday evening, January 10 at 6 p.m.;
–An ordinance was approved reducing the number of Class A tavern liquor licenses available for issue from two to one because, according to Village Administrator Mike Hemmer, the individual who had plans to open a business utilizing the additional license is not ready for it yet and may come back with a similar request at some point in the future;
–An ordinance was approved enlarging the boundaries for the Caylin Ridge Special Service Area;
–Discussion was held concerning the establishment of an early retirement incentive procedure which would affect three employees currently working for the village. Talked about was how this would be financed and what cost savings for the village might result from it along with how the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which exists for the benefit of all public sector employees throughout the state, would be involved;
–A change order was approved in an amount of $6560.30 as connected with the lining of parts of the local sewage treatment system network by Visu-Sewer of Missouri LLC;
–Also regarding the same capital improvement project concerning the lining of the sewer system, pay request #2 from Visu-Sewer in an amount of $75,878.55 was approved;
–Trustee Taylor Zurliene said he would check on the other board members’ availability then set a date for a finance committee meeting to begin putting together the budget for the fiscal year which begins on May 1.