CHICAGO (CBS) — First, fire gutted an Austin neighborhood home. Then, the charred remains of the house went untouched for years.
Neighbors complained – they say it’s dangerous.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov is always investigating, and reported Monday night that the neighbors’ frustrations only grew when the city came after them instead.
“It’s mind-boggling, and it pisses me off,” said Jean Jennings.
Jennings is fed up with the house next door – or what’s left of it after an April 2016 fire.
“Then it stood a year empty with the front boarded up, and the back wasn’t,” she said. “So, okay, so what’s going on here?”
Jennings lives on the 100 block of North Menard Avenue, and she has lived next to the burned-out shell of a home for more than three years.
So has Shumeka Mobley – who lives on the other side of the house. She said it is not only an eyesore, but also a den for rodents and other unwelcome wildlife.
“There was like the entrance and exit for the raccoons, for the possums, for the cats, just for everything to get inside of there,” Mobley said.
Both neighbors question why the city hasn’t done more to get the vacant, charred structure demolished.
“I’ve called the city. I’ve called the alderman. No one responds,” Jennings said.
Jennings even dug out a recent email to Ald. Chris Tailaferro (29th). He said his office has no record of any complaints about the property.
“It’s really a mess,” Mobley said. “It really is a mess.”
But it’s more than a mess for Jennings.
“They harassed me about three bad windows on the south side of my building. Come on!” Jennings said. “And they let this stand for almost four years?”
Jennings promptly fixed the violations before shelling out $275 to the city.
Mobley said some of the burned-out house recently was torn down after dumpsters arrived in the backyard.
But that poses other concerns.
“Just having the dumpsters there alone creates a health hazard – and it is a hazard,” Mobley said.
A Chicago Buildings Department representative said the property is in Cook County Circuit Court for demolition, but could not say why it has taken so long.
It leaves the neighbors shaking their heads.
“I want it gone. I don’t know why they keep mollypocking around with it,” Jennings said. “It’s – what the what is going on with this? It’s crazy!”
Kozlov spoke with the property owner by phone, who said he bought the house six months ago and is waiting for the proper permits to tear it down. His next court date is at the end of September.
The owner says he wants the house torn down as soon as possible, but neighbors say they’ll believe that when they finally see it happen.