I have a friend who lives in Romeoville and works at a local hospital, and therefore works long hours and nights.
Mowing his lawn weekly is probably not the highest on his priority list.
This time, however, he received a not so friendly reminder from Romeoville Code Enforcement regarding grass and/or weeds in excess of six inches. His grass was just approaching the 6.1 inch mark.
Code Enforcement was out in full swing.
He received a few other violations such as a small boat in his back yard was not on an approved surface and so on. He has just a few days to comply without facing fines.
I took the opportunity to joke with my friend about the violations, saying that he should move to Bolingbrook where there doesn’t seem to be any rules or enforcement. He’s going to make the time to maintain his property and avoid fines.
I remember when I first moved into Bolingbrook during the summer of 2004. I started fixing up my house (one of the older houses in Bolingbrook) and was told by neighbors that even if I was going to put a nail into the exterior of my house, I should be sure to check into permits and read the various village codes and ordinances. On Saturdays, I remember code enforcement workers driving around, writing ordinance violations and checking permits.
Needless to say, times have changed.
There have been major cuts to the code enforcement, which is now overseen by the police department.
Foreclosures go unmaintained by the banks and unnoticed by the village.
There are instances of three to four families living in single family homes. Want to park your car in the middle of your lawn? Go for it. Replace your leaking roof with a nice new blue tarp? No one will fine you. Even the police blotter on this site (The Patch) continuously list the theft of hot water tanks and copper pipes from vacant properties.
A house near Tibbott Elementary School was stripped of its gutters and hot water tank, leaving an unsafe structure for children in the area.
Since spring is upon us, I took the opportunity to reach out to the Bolingbrook Police Department to see if anything has changed from last year.
Sergeant Craig Gunty, who is in charge to the two person code enforcement team, is always willing to respond to major eyesores in the community. There is no doubt that Sergeant Gunty and his team work hard and do their part to respond to residents.
Unfortunately, with only two employees, Bolingbrook code enforcement is instructed to be reactive instead of proactive.
Sergeant Gunty responded to my e-mail, stating:
I have only 2 guys now for a town of over 21,000 single family residences and they do all the apartment and home rental inspections also. We used to have 8 full timers and 5 seasonal employees but with the economic downturn we lost far too many. The result is we went from being 90% proactive to being 95% reactive. I am sorry to say we do not have the ability to drive or walk subdivisions like we used to do. We get so many calls now that they literally get put on a waiting list. I myself am now in charge of 3 divisions so I can’t even get out and help them like I used to. What I have been asking of our residents is that you send me an email or call me with addresses and a brief description of the problem at homes in your area and we will take it from there.”
Without a doubt, our police and public employees work hard to make Bolingbrook a better place to live.
This is a matter of how we should invest in the community. Many of our capital expenditures for this year involve infrastructure improvement such as streets and landscaping around the commercial sides of town.
But what about investing in the beatification of the neighborhoods where people live? Wouldn’t a maintained neighborhood result in increased housing value, new home purchases, and therefore an increase in sales and property tax revenues? Is a code enforcement team of two able to support a village of 74,000+ residents? Do you consider code enforcement a need or nuisance? Is there an adequate pay-off of code enforcement officials and property values?
Please share your thoughts.