ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The city of Rockford has been trying a new approach to help certain homeowners get their condemned properties back in shape. Aldermen have agreed to reduce fines that are sometimes in the thousands of dollars and more neighbors want to take advantage of this program.
The city council is coming up with a way to work with certain homeowners and give them a break when it comes to fines on their properties, if they either fix up their house or tear it down. When a home is condemned for bad wiring or plumbing, there's usually a penalty until the issue is fixed. In some cases, the problem has gone on for so long that fine is in the thousands of dollars. The city council plans to review the fines for five homes during Monday night’s meeting. Those code violation fines may be reduced, on the condition that the homeowner fixes the problem in a set time frame or demolishes the structure.
“There’s a case to be made, say you want to be hardnosed about it and say ‘we're going to get that $45,000 from you’, well it might cost us $45,000 to get it, if we ever did. The issue is, get the house fixed, bring it up to code, comply with the laws that are here and that way we'll all go away happen with one another," says 10th Ward Alderman Frank Beach.
The city has already agreed to do this for a dozen other properties. The purpose is to get people living in them once again so they aren't attracting criminals or sitting as an eyesore in a neighborhood. The fines get lowered only after the property owner fixes the issues or demolishes the home. The city has also set aside half a million to tear down other condemned and empty homes this year.