By Vinde Wells
A lifelong Mt. Morris resident voiced her concern to the village board Tuesday evening about how some residents are letting their property become unkempt.
Salley Wessels said she has noticed that some yards aren’t being mowed, junk is allowed to accumulate, and apparently abandoned vehicles are parked illegally.
“I think what we’re missing is pride,” she said. “I’d like to register a complaint.”
Wessels said she would like any village ordinances that govern those matters to be enforced.
“If there are ordinances…we can do something about it,” she said.
Village trustee Phil Labash, who was acting as village president pro tem in the absence of village president Dan Elsasser, agreed.
In his two terms on the board, he said the issue has been frequently discussed.
“Ordinance violation is something we’ve been wrestling with,” he said.
He said the board has taken steps to remedy the problem by hiring the Ogle County State’s Attorney to prosecute the offenders in court, at a considerable cost savings over having the village attorney take care of it.
The board also has authorized stricter enforcement of the grass length ordinance, he said, and in some cases, hires someone to mow the grass and then sends the bill to the property owner.
The board also hired Michael Schroeder as part-time ordinance enforcement officer in 2016, and adopted the International Property Maintenance Code in early 2017, as part of its ongoing effort to improve how property owners keep up their homes and businesses.
Ordinance Committee Chairman Jerry Stauffer agreed with both Wessels and Labash.
“It’s a continuous thing,” he said. “It doesn’t end when you write a grass citation.”
Stauffer said he met with Elsasser, Police Chief Jason White, and village attorney Rob LeSage on Monday to discuss the issue.
Stauffer said having an ordinance enforcement officer has not been as effective as hoped, and his committee is re-evaluating the position.
Police Committee Chairman Shane Pope said in recent weeks, White and other police officers have stepped up writing citations for violations of village ordinances.
In the past, he said, it was too expensive to prosecute the offenses.
“Hopefully with the state’s attorney’s agreement, these tickets will have a little more bite to them,” Pope said.