Approval needed to demolish rundown house


CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — The Champaign County Board wants to tear down a dilapidated home, but getting it done hasn’t been easy.  

It’s at 504 South Dodson Drive. The board says trash has piled up and it’s become a hazard. The lawn is covered in garbage, walls and windows are broken and more. 

“A tree has fallen upon the roof,” says neighbor Robert Morris. “Since then, the assessed valuation on my house house has declined. It’s okay from the standpoint of the taxes you’re going to be paying, but if you want to try to sell a piece of real estate, it’s not quite so attractive.”

Pamela Cooper lives directly next door.

“I’m thinking if it was another neighborhood, it probably would’ve been torn down,” she says. “I remember when the fire started.”

That was in 2009. No one was hurt in the fire, but firefighters say the family dog didn’t make it out. It caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. The place wasn’t fixed up, and the county planning and zoning director says no one’s paid taxes on it for at least two years.

“Cats, possums, whatever,” says Cooper, “I don’t know whatever’s over there.”

She points to a couch in the front yard.

“That couch, it wasn’t here a month ago. Then, I don’t know, I got up one morning, and it was there.”  

Neighbors say it’s become an illegal dumping site and is a safety hazard for area kids tempted to use it as a playhouse. Those who see the house every day say they’re glad the county is taking action.

“I am delighted to hear that, although it’s a little late in coming,” says Morris.

But better late than never.

“Well, yes,” he says.

The county board is waiting for the state’s attorney to decide whether it can be declared abandoned before it can be demolished.

The county’s planning and zoning director says this case was sent to the state’s attorney a couple years ago, but the county has been dealing with bigger property problems since then. He says there was no one taking care of 504 South Dodson. 

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