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Unkempt homes in River Hills?

Sore thumbs prompt village to get tougher

Oct. 27, 2010

River Hills — With driveways often longer than a suburban block, lots of woods and some of the wealthiest residents in the state, the village has not put much focus on homes with unkempt landscapes or poor property maintenance.In recent years, that assumption of well-kept property has been put to the test, and the Village Board will consider an updated ordinance to address some of the issues that have been raised by residents.

"It was always assumed that anyone who owns a house in the village would not have a hole in their wall," said Trustee Wendy Walcott.

There are many yards and homes that cannot be seen from the road or any neighboring properties and, therefore, are unlikely to prompt complaints from anyone.

While many properties are well hidden, not all are tucked away from the public eye. Residents living across from Brown Deer Park in the triangular area bordered by Green Bay, Range Line and Bradley roads were the first to come to a Village Board meeting and ask for assistance with several properties in that area, notably, two with tarps covering the roofs.

Those residents complained in August. Since that time, others have also petitioned. One resident, Jay Lerner, said that grass is several feet high in a yard on Pheasant Lane. The house is empty, he said.

The village has a property maintenance ordinance, but it is limited in scope.

"The current ordinance doesn't address how to deal with maintenance of properties and those going into foreclosure," Village Manager Tom Tollakson said.

Tollaksen said he knows of only one property in the village that has been foreclosed upon, but it is possible that others could be in different stages of that process.

In the cases of the houses on Green Bay Road, Tollakson said the building inspector is following the steps that could eventually lead to the issuance of municipal citations. Those steps include inspecting both properties, notifying the owners to correct the problems within 30 days and following up with another inspection to determine what progress has been made.

The board plans to review the ordinance Nov. 17.

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