The Collinsville City Council met Monday for a strategic meeting and heard from the city's community development director about nuisance properties.
Last year, after working through the legal process, the city demolished nine properties deemed to be nuisance properties and attractive nuisances.
"We don't immediately go to demolition, contrary to popular belief," said Community Development Director Mitchell Bair. "This has been a successful program over the past year. Most of these properties are problem properties with absent owners and they are a nuisance."
The process takes up to a year, or more, for the city to gain the legal authority to take possession of the nuisance property and demolish it, Bair said.
"It's very frustrating for neighbors because the legal process can take so long," he said. "But, this program has been a major success. We get such powerful, positive feedback from the neighbors when we go through this process."
The biggest obstacle in the process is finding the owner to get the legal process started.
"We reach out to the owner many times, if they can be found," Bair said. "Some of these properties have unclean titles dating back to the 1920s and one of our major problems is finding the owner of record and serving them. A lot of these owners don't want to be found."
Now, the city must decide what to do with the vacant lots it now owns and invested money to demolish. Bair said the city has less than $10,000 invested on the now-vacant lots.
Bair suggested to council members that the properties be appraised to learn their fair market value and then put up for auction. He presented a PowerPoint presentation that showed the property before condemnation and demolition, after the lot had been leveled and re-seeded, and a mock-up of what the lot would look like if a new home was built there.
"What do we do with these lots?" Bair asked the council. "That's the question we are looking at now. Some of these lots are suitable for a new building, some should have never been built on in the first place. We do have tremendous interest from people in these lots to buy them and build on them. I say, let's go through the bidding process, get what we can on those lots and let someone put a new home on them."
So far this year, the city is in the legal process of demolishing 10 properties, including a five-acre parcel with derelict structures at 1050 Shelton Place, which is located across from the Collinsville High School.
At the regular City Council meeting a public hearing was held on a Madison County Community Development Block Grant Program application for the South Aurora Water Main Replacement Project. The project would replace some of the oldest water mains in the city. The block grant provides up to $100,000 for such projects and the city would use $35,000 from its enterprise fund to cover engineering costs and construction.
No one from the public discussed the water main project.
In other business, Collinsville Mayor John Miller pulled a TIF fund request from McDill's Pub, at 334 St. Louis Road, off the agenda.
"We are pulling this item due to some problems with the bid tabulations that came in on that property," Miller said.
The owner of the business, Pat McDill, spent $11,995 out-of-pocket to replace the roof, gutters, and siding on the building after it was damaged by hail. TIF funds, if approved, would reimburse McDill 40 percent of the total cost, or, $4,798.