Oak Park home contaminated by neighbor's human waste - Village of Oak Park can BUT WON'T stop this.

4.12.15

Thank you all, again for signing my petition. I wish I had better knews. I wish I could tell you that even one person in Oak Park took this seriously and was committed to an honest evaluation of my situation. The truth is, things have gotten much worse. My neighbor leased his property to a nail salon business and they are poised to open any day. I have been appealing to the Village -- not only to enforce existing plumbing and health code to protect my home and family, but even to enforce multiple zoning codes which are being brazenly violated by my neighbor and his tenant. These too have compounded the situation and devalued this property to the point where even if the sewers were separated, my home would not be worth anything more than the property value. None of these zoning code violations would prohibit my neighbor's property from being used and making him money. But they WOULD prohibit this property be used for retail and large customer numbers type of business. So again, money wins out for Oak Park.

As a result of my neighbor's repeated roddings on the sewer line (again - -this line was not designed for human waste and clogs easily and often), he has cracked MY sewer pipe at the catch basin. A repair that would cost me over $1500. I say "would" because the Village is refusing to grant me a permit to repair. I applied almost 4 weeks ago. I gave them pictures of the cracked pipe. I requested a response in writing. They have not responded.

Because they know I will have to be out of this house soon. 

And the village and everyone else believes them. I have been villified by this Village. There is no one that will speak out on my behalf, corroborate my situation to those in "power". The police took 30 minutes to respond to a 911 call when one of my neighbor's employees had parked in my driveway, blocking me from leaving. The fire department took over 20 minutes to respond to a call that my house was filling with sewer gas as a result of my neighbor rodding the sewer line -- again. A report that my neighbor had filled a gigantic construction dumpster 4 feet over the "fill" level went unanswered for over 7 days. A windstorm on that 7th day put the majority of that overfilled construction debris onto my car and all over my property. Even over a 6' fence into my courtyard.

I asked the Village President for a face-to-face meeting. He has agreed to meet me for 30 minutes tomorrow morning. (4-13 at 10am). I know this is futile, but I feel if I do not show up, it will further support their words of me as a "crazy person just trying to make trouble and continually harrassing Jack Strand (the owner) and his tenants."

I asked the previous Village President, David Pope to do one thing: to ask any plumbing not on Oak Park's or Jack Strand's (same difference) payroll for their assessment of my situation. He would not even do that. I will ask Anan Abu-Taleb the same thing. And how he can condone a Village Government that forces its employees to lie.

I have never wanted anything more than to be able to sell my house at a fair market value. Just like any one of you. And to live in a place where I am not afraid for our health and safety. A place where my family's rights for equal protection under the laws of this Village, state and nation are upheld. But this is not Oak Park. This is not Illinois.

ORIGINAL POSTING:

Oak Park is refusing to enforce IL and Oak Park plumbing and zoning codes which have resulted in contamination of property, severe threat to health and welfare of a family, and total destruction of property in favor of a neighboring property, owned by a long-time head of the Village Board for New Development. The neighboring property (originally the coach house to this property) was recently converted from offices to retail and residential. The original grey-water line that serviced a utility sink was convereted to a sanitary sewer line (the ONLY line servicing two bathrooms for this building). That sanitary sewer line connects with our grey-water/catch basin line and has resulted in continual blockages, filling our 6' deep catch basin with human waste, and backing up into our basement and plumbing system. The Village has turned to former Oak Park plumbing inspector Andrew Thiesse, now an IL State Plumbing Inspector, for a ruling on what should be obvious to any licensed plumber -- that this connection is not allowable whether a building is new or existing. That this connection directly threatens the health and welfare of home and persons. That the neighbor should be mandated to get his own, private connection to the city's sewer system, not be a part of the grey-water connection for a private home.

Mr. Thiesse wrote a letter to the Village stating the situation is totally code compliant. However, Mr. Thiesse never personally inspected the situation -- which is in violation of his duties.

Any licensed plumber will confirm this situation should and would not be allowed to exist any where regardless of age of property.

Oak Park has refused to enforce multiple zoning code violations from this property which have also ruined the value of our home and quality of life. The business's customers routinely park in and block our driveway, routinely come onto our property, and routinely violate street no parking regulations. 

IL and Oak Park plumbing code require a proper connection to the city's sewer system and specifically prohibit any connection that results in unsanitary conditions, or threatens the health and welfare of people or property.

Illinois Plumbing Code
TITLE 77: PUBLIC HEALTH
CHAPTER I: DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
SUBCHAPTER r: WATER AND SEWAGE
PART 890 ILLINOIS PLUMBING CODE

Section 890:110 General Regulations
2) Regardless of the age of the building, where a health or safety hazard exists because of an existing plumbing installation or lack thereof, the owner or his agent shall install additional plumbing or make such corrections as may be necessary to abate the hazard or violation of this Part.

Oak Park Building/Plumbing Code
Article 108.7. Unsafe Plumbing.

Any plumbing regulated by this code that is unsafe or that constitutes a fire or health hazard, unsanitary conditions, or is otherwise dangerous to human life is hereby declared unsafe.Any use of plumbing regulated by this code constituting a hazard to safety, health or public welfare by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, fire hazard, disaster, damage or abandonment is hereby declared as unsafe use. Any such unsafe equipment is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and shall be abated by repair, rehabilitation, demolition or removal.

The Village's response to this code:
"The current installation is not in conflict with any Village or State regulation related to construction of plumbing systems. There is no safety hazard or immediate danger to life or property." - Stephen Witt, Head of Building and Property Standards, 7-25-2014.

UNSELLABLE AND RUINED: I had my home on the market to sell prior to this discovery and have not been able to list it on the market because of this contaminating situation. My finances have been ruined because of the costs involved in clean up and fighting this for almost 4 years.

I currently have a lawyer defending me from the neighbor's lawsuit alleging his right to my property and sewer lines. I need to show Oak Park that their "interpretation" of code is erroneous, and favors my neighbor to the point of corruption -- and I'm not the only one that believes this.

My lawyer has been serving me pro-bono and is willing to enter into a lawsuit against the neighbor. However, Oak Park and their connection at the state of IL Plumbing Health Department need to be exposed in their support of this neighbor and called to account regarding their blatant bending/ignoring of code before anyone can be heald accountable.

My home is contaminated and unsellable. My finances have been destroyed. I am going through foreclosure and bankruptcy -- all as a direct result of Oak Park refusing to enforce multiple plumbing and zoning code. Code that is very clear in its intent to protect people and property from exactly this situation.

Our neighbor, a long-time board member on the Board of New Development for Oak Park, has a sanitary sewer connection that comes into my property and connects with my grey-water and catch basin line. As a result, my line gets clogged and human waste fills my catch basin, over 5-feet deep. Then it backs up into my basement. My property and plumbing system are contaminated unless I routinely (montly) pay $400-500 to get his human waste pumped out of my catch basin.

The neighbor recently converted this building from small office to retail (Tux Rental) and residental apartment upstairs. The customers (often 50+/day) can flush anything with zero liability. The neighbor can perform any work on the lines -- my lines -- with zero notification or liability.

Oak Park and the former plumbing inspector for Oak Park, Andrew Thiesse (now an IL State Plumbing Health Inspector) say this situation is totally code compliant and refuse to make the neighbor put in his own sanitary sewer line to the city's line.
They also refuse to enforce multiple zoning violations which also directly impact my home's value and our health and safety. 

Oak Park code: 


Article 108.7. Unsafe Plumbing.


Any plumbing regulated by this code that is unsafe or that constitutes a fire or health hazard, unsanitary conditions, or is otherwise dangerous to human life is hereby declared unsafe.Any use of plumbing regulated by this code constituting a hazard to safety, health or public welfare by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, fire hazard, disaster, damage or abandonment is hereby declared as unsafe use. Any such unsafe equipment is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and shall be abated by repair, rehabilitation, demolition or removal.



IL Plumbing Code:


1) If an existing building is changed from one use to another or from one classification to another, as provided in Appendix A, Table B, it shall be treated as a new building and shall comply with the requirements of this Part for its new use or occupancy.


2) Regardless of the age of the building, where a health or safety hazard exists because of an existing plumbing installation or lack thereof, the owner or his agent shall install additional plumbing or make such corrections as may be necessary to abate the hazard or violation of this Part.


Section 890.140 Repairs and Alterations


a) Existing Buildings.1) In existing buildings, including historic buildings, or premises in which plumbing installations are to be altered, renovated or replaced, materials and methods shall meet or exceed the provisions of this Part.c) Health and Safety. Where a health or safety hazard exists because of an existing plumbing installation or lack thereof, the owner or his agent shall install additional plumbing or make such corrections as may be necessary to abate the hazard or violation of this Part.

Any licensed plumber will confirm that this connection of a sanitary sewer line to our catch basin line, on our property is most certainly not allowable. 

I have been fighting the Village to enforce any of this, quoting line after line of very clear code, and living in a hell of Village Officials not returning calls and emails, people who say they can help never contacting us again, no media responding, no Village Board members or Dept of Health response and a neighbor who uses legal threats and terrifying intimidation against us. Last year, his process server violently banged on my glass door for over 15 minutes, broke my doorbell and terrified my 9-year old  son to the point where he's still has problems sleeping in his own bed.

Update #21 years ago
Hello friends,

I posted a lengthy update in the main description of my petition. I have a 30-minute meeting with the Village President tomorrow (4-13) morning at 10am. I know it will not be productive. He didn't believe me the first time we talked 3 years ago. They are all supporting each other in their lies and cover-ups. Thank you again for your time, your care, your support. I will be printing and giving this petition to Anan tomorrow morning.

Kind regards, Sherri
Update #12 years ago
My latest appeal to the village citing code that my neighbor's human waste coming into my home and plumbing system is a hazard to our heath was answered by the OP Head of Bldg & Property Standards Stephen Witt: "The current installation is not in conflict with any Village or State regulation related to construction of plumbing systems. There is no safety hazard or immediate danger to life or property."
I will be going to the Village with the numbers to show how many disagree with him. Thx!
Sign Petition

privacy policy

By signing, you accept Care2's terms of service.

Having problems signing this? Let us know.