City of Kewanee is Cracking Down on Nuisance Properties with Legal Action

The City of Kewanee has started cracking down on nuisance properties with large fines and property liens, when necessary. The Community Development Department is tasked with investigating complaints received for a property and investigating violations observed by staff. Whether a complaint is received or staff initiates a report, photos are taken from the City right-of-way and a letter is sent to the property owner detailing the violation(s). Community Development Staff must be able to see or smell (order complaint) the violation from the city right-of-way. If Staff is unable to see the violation from the city right of way, staff may ask an adjacent property owner for permission to enter their property to take photos of the property in question. According to Community Development Director, Keith Edwards, “Our goal is to gain compliance with the city ordinances and make every effort to avoid the need for legal action”.

If the property owner refuses to correct the violation or disagrees with the violation, the case is sent to the City Attorney to proceed with legal action. The fines placed on a nuisance violation in the past have been small and didn’t get the desired response from the property owner. According to the city ordinance, fines range from $25 to $500 per day. Until recently, the daily fines where not enforced, but the City Attorney has started requesting the max fine per day of $500 and an order to clean up the property within a specific time from.  The City Attorney attends court on Friday mornings to request the court orders and the Judges have been approving the requested fines. The following are examples of current fines for nuisance properties: $10,000, $40,000, $119,160, $238,593 and $873,500.

If the property owner brings the property into compliance with the ordinance, the fine may be waived completely or reduced to a smaller amount, in most cases. In some cases, the fine is neither waived nor reduced. The City can enter a property to remove the violations if a property owner refuses to comply with the court order, and bill the property owner for the costs incurred by the City. If the bill or court ordered fines are not paid, the City Attorney can place a lien on the property for the cost of the bill and fines.

A last resort step the City can take is to foreclose on the property if the lien is not paid. According to Keith Edwards, “This would be an absolute last resort for extreme cases and would not be an option the City would take lightly”.

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1 Comment

  • I live here May 22, 2023 at 11:23 am Reply

    So people are being put out, because they can’t keep maintenance on their house… not even going to try and see what’s going on huh. Can’t wait for marburg to hit. Another pandemic is what we need if it will keep you from putting people put of their house. This one will be way worse just like Bill Gates said…

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