Villa Grove city council discusses rental properties

The Villa Grove city council met at 6 p.m. on September 28 for their regularly scheduled monthly Committee of the Whole meeting, with all aldermen, plus Mayor Eversole Gunter, Administrator Athey and City Clerk Osborne in attendance.

After saying the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Eversole Gunter opened the floor for public comments.  Allen and Tedra Nelk, along with Jeff and Deanna Blackford, were present to express their concerns over the state of certain rental properties near their homes on Hancock Drive on the east side of Villa Grove.  Deanna Blackford asked about the possibility of instilling or enforcing some sort of tenant-landlord law to see that the properties are cleaned up.  Alderman Hooker responded that there had been a meeting in which a majority of Villa Grove landlords had attended earlier in the year, before the pandemic and that it had been deemphasized for a time due to COVID-19.   Allen Nelk responded that he too had attended the meeting, and that rather than permanently addressing the issue, the landlord had simply moved the offending materials from the property where the ordinance violations had occurred to another location on the same street.  

Mayor Eversole Gunter then noted that several rental property owners in town had addressed the issue directly with their tenants and that many had done a good job of policing their property.  Jeff Blackford then suggested that the landlords be held accountable for their properties, rather than the tenants, and the mayor concurred.

Chief of Police Bob Rea then stated that the council should perhaps review existing ordinances if the current laws weren’t strong enough to enforce.  Allen Nelk then suggested that the properties be looked at for nuisance violations, and Rea agreed.  He said that under existing law, he could give the property owner ten days to correct the violation before fines were assessed.  The mayor, council and the chief of police were all in agreement that something should be done.

Eversole Gunter then moved on to the next item on the agenda, which was her report.  She asked the council for a consensus on joining the Villa Grove Chamber of Commerce in hosting an outdoor movie again this fall.  It was agreed to do so, but unfortunately, due to the pandemic, there won’t be opportunities for games and other activities in 2020.  There will be free popcorn and hot chocolate, along with the movie “Trolls World Tour.”  She also noted that Chamber president Bruce Allen had volunteered to create the “cars” that kids had sat in last year.

From there, the council moved to new business.

First item up was the swearing in of new police officers Derek L. Rasmussen and Patrick S. Webb, which Chief Rea had the honor of doing.

Next, the consensus vote was taken to approve joining the Chamber of Commerce in offering the Fall movie, with all in agreement.

Finally, Eversole Gunter then asked the council if they had anything to report, and Alderman Hooker stated that the family of Mya Irvin had extended their thanks to the public works department for all their hard work in placing her memorial plaque at Henson Park. 

The council then went into closed session at 6:37 p.m., emerging at 7:12. After a brief discussion about which movie to show, Hooker motioned to adjourn at 7:17 p.m., with all approving.

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