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Neighborhood Group File Suit Against "Nuisance Properties"

Updated: Monday, August 18 2014, 10:55 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- A neighborhood group -- is taking on what they say are three chronic nuisance properties.

The Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association want the rental properties shut down until they're fixed and if not--knocked down for good. Because the neighborhood association owns nearby properties they're using a state statute that allows them to ask Sangamon County Circuit Court for relief.

"Tear it down, fix it up, but we don't really care," says the association's president, Michelle Higginbotham.

Listing structural deficiencies like failed foundation walls and open walls along with concerns about squatters, Higginbotham, said this 3rd street building has been in a dilapidated state for more than a decade.

Neighbor, Meredith Cargill, says it's not so bad living near the house. Though when the property has problems, he says they're big ones.

"Last winter I came home one evening and smelled smoke in the neighborhood, and that home was on fire," he said.

The other properties the neighborhood association is taking on are on 4th and 9th Streets. Among the associations complaints for the two: trash piled up and generally run down conditions.

The city labeled both "unsafe" in June, though only the 4th Street one had a sign up when we visited, prohibiting occupancy.

"The city does not like to kick people out of their homes if they can possibly avoid it," Higginbotham said.

Amity Frey lives down the block from the 4th Street building. She wants to see landlords held accountable for their properties.

"They're making that income on a monthly basis, but they're not doing a lot to follow up and maintain the properties," Frey said.

The landlord for those two properties says he hadn't heard of the suit yet and declined to comment.

Higginbotham says the city has limited resources for rundown properties, and so the neighborhood improvement association has taken this into its own hands.

"And so we hope that by taking action, this might force things to Happen a little bit more quickly," said Higginbotham.

Newschannel 20's request for comment from the owners of the 3rd Street property went unanswered.

The sole owner of the other two properties declined any official comment since he had not received the suit yet. In a phone conversation, though, he said the repairs were nearly done for the shut down 4th Street property.

The city has its own "chronic nuisance" battle going on with the Bel-Aire Motel.

The city's spokesman says Springfield Police have been looking at records to determine what actions they can take after aldermen passed a resolution urging action.Neighborhood Group File Suit Against "Nuisance Properties"

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