Oak Lawn signs on to county’s vacant property program
By Mike Nolan email@example.com September 10, 2012 4:53PM
Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann
Updated: October 12, 2012 6:13AM
Oak Lawn has become the first suburb to sign on to a Cook County ordinance that seeks to create an online registry of vacant homes and other buildings.
The county ordinance, which took effect in February, requires banks and other lenders to register and maintain vacant properties. It was intended to cover only unincorporated areas of the county, but was written to enable suburbs that don’t have their own similar regulations to adopt it.
Along with paying a one-time registration fee of $250, mortgage holders have to comply with maintenance and security standards and would face fines of as much as $1,000 a day if a property falls into disrepair.
The county’s building and zoning department would work with Oak Lawn municipal employees to determine if homes and other buildings are vacant, and whether they’ve been registered with the county, according to a news release issued by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office.
Oak Lawn does have municipal property maintenance ordinances, and the county’s ordinance won’t override those, Mayor Dave Heilmann said Monday. The county “may be able to assist (the village) more quickly in identifying the owners and getting them to remedy deficiencies,” he said in an email.
But if the village cites someone under its own ordinance “we receive the full amount (of the fine), whereas we would receive only a portion of any fine” if the property owner is cited using the county ordinance, Heilmann said.
According to the county, Oak Lawn would receive half of registration fees paid by owners of vacant properties in the village, as well as half of any fines collected.
“So there may be times when we use our own ordinances and other times we go through the county ordinance,” the mayor said.