Polo Board of Health decision condemning home upheld on appeal – Shaw Local – Reuters


City of Polo – POLO – The Polo Board of Health’s decision to condemn a house on South Division Avenue after declaring it “unfit for human occupation” has been upheld on appeal. lation of the owner. On Sept. 19, Polo City Council members voted unanimously to uphold the board of health’s Aug. 26 decision, rejecting owner Ahmad Farraj’s appeal. Councilman Keith Chestnut was absent from Monday’s meeting. In several letters to Farraj, Polo building inspector Casper Manheim wrote that the house at 601 South Division Avenue meets “unfit for human occupancy” standards. Because repairs would cost more than the home is worth, the building must be torn down, he wrote. “Mr. Farraj received a letter on June 11, 2021 saying he had 10 days to fix the breaches and again on August 16, a time frame of 431 days,” said Councilor Tommy Bardell. “Sufficient time has been given for these conditions to be met. They have not been met. The Polo Board of Health consists of Mayor Doug Knapp, City Clerk Sydney Bartelt and Police Chief Troy Randall. Board members voted Aug. 26 to condemn the property. Farraj filed a notice of appeal in a Sept. 8 letter to the city. The appeal hearing took place Monday, before the regular meeting of Polo City Council At the beginning of the appeal hearing, City Attorney Mr. Thomas Suits explained that information not presented at the City Council hearing could not be presented Health of Polo. “The purpose of an appeal is to clarify what mistakes have been made in the decision-making of the Health Board,” he said. “For ta nt, the new promises, the new alleged facts that were not presented at the original hearing are not part of it.” Farraj bears the burden of convincing board members that the Polo Health Board’s decision was made in error, Suits said. Typically, a caller points to an abuse of discretion or an improper consideration of the facts, he said. “This whole inspection was flawed,” Farraj said. “Nothing, I didn’t see anything wrong with the building.” Farraj said city officials were “teaming up” with another resident to force him to sell 601 South Division Ave. to the individual Knapp confirmed that this claim was discussed at the Board of Health meeting. “I told him that this charge had no validity … and that it never had anything to do with our decision [health] advice,” Knapp told Suits. Farraj said he should have received photos of the building inspection findings. “I didn’t get any reports from them; I didn’t get any photos. I didn’t get anything” , he said. The property cleanliness code does not require photos to be provided, Suits said. The inspector must identify which parts of the code have been violated, what burden is on the property owner to correct those violations in a manner timely, he said. “I think the argument is that it didn’t happen,” Suits said. City officials, upon request, provided Shaw Media with copies of four letters written by Manheim to Farraj about the house . The letters are dated May 25, 2021; June 11, 2021; June 1, 2022; and August 16, 2022. In the May 25, 2021 letter, Manheim wrote: “We have received various complaints from your tenants about holes in the floor, exposed wires and other repair issues. He asked Farraj to call him so they could schedule a time for Manheim to tour the property. “The first floor is so bad with plumbing, electrical and dirt,” Manheim wrote in letters dated June 11, 2021 and June 1. “No one can live on the 1st floor until the repairs are done and inspected by myself. A building permit will be required. A licensed plumber and electrician will be required to carry out the work, and it will be inspected by myself. The letter, dated June 11, 2021, informed Farraj that he had 10 days to move the occupant of the first floor and remove all trash from the interior of the house, the basement and the yard. ‘June 1, Farraj was told that all tenants had to be out by June 30 and that the yard and driveway had to be cleaned. Farraj was renting out the first and second floors to separate people, Manheim noted in the Aug. 16 letter. This is against zoning regulations because the building was zoned for single-family use only, he wrote. Also, “it was never designed or had security guards between the two floors.” Nothing in either letter is correct, Farraj insisted, and called for an inspecc ion by the state or a higher governing body in the city. “It’s too late for that,” Suits replied. “If you wanted to present your own evidence at the Board of Health hearing, you would most likely have to bring in an expert to prove it or testify that there was no breach. That’s part of the process with a hearing. Then of the board’s vote, Suits told Farraj that if he wanted to take any further action, that was his choice. If he takes further action, he would have to review Illinois’ administrative review law. “But without that, the city he can ask you to demolish the property,” Suits said.
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