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Blight, Politics or Bullying? Property Maintenance Dispute Surfaces at City Council Meeting

Local businessman Dan Nicholson challenged the motivation behind a $950 fine he received for an alleged dilapidated fence at 206 Heustis St.

A local businessman threatened legal action against Yorkville over a $950 fine for an allegedly dilapidated fence after calling Mayor Gary Golinski a bully at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Dan Nicholson, of , suggested his fine was connected with his refusal to sell his property at 206 Heustis St. to one of Golinski’s friends.

Golinski denied the ordinance violation had political undertones or was connected to a potential property sale. Nicholson is listed in state election records as the treasurer for former Mayor Valerie Burd’s campaign committee; Golinski beat her by in the April election.

“I am not a bully; that can be your headline,” Golinski said to local media during a break in Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “… Last I heard, he was asking $4 million. None of my friends have that kind of money.”

When asked if business owner Rick Tollefson, who is involved with other downtown projects, had shown interest in Nicholson’s property, Golinski indicated that Tollefson had looked at most of downtown at one time or another.

“It’s a mess down there,” Golinski said of the site at 206 Heustis St. “All he has to do is clean it up.”

During public comment, Nicholson said he was discussing the matter publicly since Golinski refused to meet with him privately. (Golinski said he did not remember receiving a meeting invitation.)

“My business supports not only myself, my daughters, my 89-year-old mother, my nieces, my nephew and even my ex-wife,” Nicholson said. “When you attack my business as you have done, you’re also attacking them and what sustains them.

“Don’t be surprised at the veracity of my response,” Nicholson said, beginning to address city attorney Kathleen Field-Orr. “Ms. Orr, I’m about to make you a very busy and wealthy woman.”

The matter isn’t over. City staff said Nicholson has until Nov. 7 to fix the dilapidated fence. He was given that deadline and fined $950 after he failed to appear at a Sept. 28 adjudication hearing, said Krysti Barksdale-Noble, Yorvkille’s community development director.

City officials had discussed the dilapidated fence, weeds and other problems on the property with him in May and sent him a letter about the property July 20, Barksdale-Noble said.

Then, city staff discussed the problems with him during inspections on Aug. 24 and Aug. 26 before sending him a ticket for the fence on Aug. 29. His fine represents $100 in court costs plus a $25 fine per day for 34 days, Barksdale-Noble said.

Barksdale-Noble said she had not received any direction from Golinski to pursue ordinance violations on Nicholson’s property, nor had she received numerous complaints about the property from other residents.

Rather, the city’s former code inspector had made some efforts to address the situation before he was among , she said. The new part-time code enforcement officer was being a little more proactive – in some instances looking for ordinance violations without receiving a public complaint.

“I’m just doing my job,” Barksdale-Noble said.

Q Neal October 27, 2011 at 04:51 PM
This doesn't surprise me. They city staff can say what they want, but I don't think it's a coincidence they are allegedly harassing this guy after hearing about the troubles the city was giving a local ice cream shop (who's owner is a former alderman) over trying to increase business.
G Reum October 27, 2011 at 05:33 PM
The Nicholson property looks like a slum. It doesn't matter who is harassing whom, Nicholson's property makes downtown Yorkville look like some backwoods, redneck excuse for a negligent business. The man can do business on a decent, well-cared for property that lives up to city codes and the standards of the other people in the town who DO take pride and care for their properties. Nicholson, get rid of the rusted out vehicles that house vermin, fix the fence, do something to fill the holes in that excuse for an office. Fixing those things will not hamper you from doing business and supporting your extended family. When everyone is trying so hard to maintain property values, the Nicholson property makes the whole town look like a bunch of slobs. Clean it up!!
Melissa Maye October 27, 2011 at 07:06 PM
There's no excuse for this piece of property continuing to be in the condition that it's in. It's been in reprehensible condition for YEARS. There is no reason why Mr. Nicholson can't run a successful business from a piece of property that is not a blight and an eyesore. This property has been an embarrassment to Yorkville since I've lived here, and there's absolutely nothing politically motivated behind the city's attempt to clean it up, a fact which is borne out by the fact that the property has been a disgrace throughout the tenure of at least three mayoral administrations that I know of. Clean up your pigsty, Mr. Nicholson, and you won't have to worry about anyone "harassing" you. I'm just glad that the matter became public, so I could finally get a chance to tell you what I think about the ridiculous condition in which you maintain your property.
Julie Gondar October 27, 2011 at 09:22 PM
The city isn't trying to shut down the business, just have him clean it up. And it's a hot mess! That fence isn't serving any purpose, so tear it down if you can't afford to fix it. The whole property is strewn with old vehicles (which I would bet are leaking oil and other chemicals into the soil on that property). There is NO excuse for it to be in this state. And if the business is supporting so many people, have them come down and give you a hand in maintaining it!
Scott Harmon October 29, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Isn't this parcel zoned commercial? I would love to see the city ordinance regarding fencing for commercial parcels. I would like to see a copy of the citation and the ordinance referenced on the citation. Jill, can you get that for us in PDF?
Tim Drendel October 29, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Have any of you who are attacking Dan ever struggled to survive? Juggled your daily options to meet financial, family, and socioeconomic needs? I've known Dan Nicholson for many years. He is a good honest hard working family man. Let's think outside the box for a minute. What could bring more families to the area than a quaint little diner with big viewing windows, a souvenir shop, and a learning opportunity for children to witness first hand ,something as fundamental and crucial to our everyday lives? An operating sawmill, where trees are turned into useable lumber and timbers. We can watch Dan at work while sipping coffee or hot cider inside, or venture outside to enjoy the crisp winter scene, seeing our breath in the breeze, and watching safely behind timber fences, milled by Nicholson's. Yorkville is a historic Fox River Town. A sawmill is part of the fabric woven into our history. We could miss out on a great opportunity here if we are not careful.
Scott Harmon October 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM
The answer to the question is: politics and bullying. This is a deflection of where the real mess is at - City Hall. If property owners and businesses were not stiffed by our local government to cover bonds and other ridiculous expenses through these huge property and income tax increases placed on us by our government, including the United City of Yorkville, we would have money to keep our property in good repair. Additionally, if we had better police protection we wouldn't have vandals tearing apart fences of our local businesses and residences. Since our city funds are being used to take care of developers and other special interests, we don't have the funds to bring our police support in line where Chief Hart wants it to be serve the community at a level this community deserves. I'm not how much more Dan had to pay in property taxes as a result of the 106% increase in the city rate and 17.5% increase in the overall rate, but as an individual I had to pay $900 in additional property tax and $2,000 in additional income tax this year alone. Guess what, that's money I could use to battle the weed growth on my parcel that is right across the street from the weed donor fields owned by the City of Yorkville and Lennar Corporation. What a backwards place we live in.
Scott Harmon October 30, 2011 at 12:28 PM
One more point, all of these weed donor fields owned by Lennar and other government supported developers will be paying zero porperty tax next year as a result of a new law passsed by this fine state last year. Don't believe me? Go take a look at the assessments via http://taxinquiry.co.kendall.il.us/forms/search.aspx or the most recent publications that just came out. The money will be coming from the rest of us as a result of more rate increases.
Kendall Watch November 06, 2011 at 05:37 AM
An excellant bait and switch by Nicholson though I must say. He's been in violation for 15-20 years and the mayor is bullying? That's silly. Further he is going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money by his frivolty based on his comments at the council meeting. So not only does he break the law, create an eye sore, refuse to pay his fines but now he is going to cost us thousands, maybe hundreds of thousand in legal fees? On top of that he sounds as if he was completely beligerent at the meeting. This guy is out of control. He ran the previous mayor's campaign evidently and makes you wonder why she didnt make an effort to clean it up. Sounds like Illinois politics at its best. Nicholson appears to have been the previous mayors biggest campaign donor if you look at donations online. Golinksi wouldnt take donations.

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