CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Thursday night, one neighborhood learned it may be able to get common ponds back, and get rid of “Nasty Joe’s.”
After a man in the Timberline Valley South subdivision stopped paying the drainage taxes on two ponds, the delinquent tax bills were auctioned off to a man from suburban Chicago. He claims to represent a company called “Nasty Joe’s,” and he’s threatened to charge homeowners with trespassing on his ponds.
City and county officials met with neighbors Thursday night. For the second time, the city advised them to form a homeowner’s association. But the county treasurer also told them, they may be able to solve their problems by taking a look a something else.
“I’m one of the people that moved into this neighborhood, that’s the first question I asked when I looked at the property. I said, ‘Does it have a HOA?’ They said, ‘No’. I said, ‘Good,'” says homeowner John Costello.
Not so good anymore. Costello wasn’t the only one who felt that way, but after the complicated debacle these detention basins have delivered, some are changing their tune.
“People are still kind of restless, and we want to do something,” says neighborhood watch coordinator Debby Borg. “We want to be proactive.”
“Real estate taxation is a complicated process,” says Champaign County Treasurer Dan Welch, “especially when you have the issue that Timberline Valley has. No taxpayer could be expected to understand the whole process.”
Welch explained common areas, like the ponds, can, in fact, be sold. When that happened, homeowners were upset they never got a notice about it. A county trustee based in Edwardsville sent out a handful of postcards to only some of them.
Welch says the goal of that was to try to find a buyer for the ponds. The notices were not actually required by law.
However, the county did find an appellate court ruling on a situation in northern Illinois (McHenry County) which happened 17 years ago. The judges ruled a common area shouldn’t have been sold, because not every single person in the neighborhood was notified.
Therefore, the Timberline Valley South Subdivision may have a way to fight through this in court. But only if they form an HOA first, the city says.
“If they’re trying to get the ponds back, they’ll have the power to do that,” says Nina Sibley, of Champaign Neighborhood Services. “They can rally an attorney and ask one to vouch for him.”
After the meeting, several neighbors were more agreeable to the idea of forming an HOA. The city says, if they do, they have money they can use to help them hire an attorney.
As for Nasty Joe’s, Welch says he got an email from the representative, Brian Nastruz. He says his company “didn’t want the relationship to be hostile, and regret our message came across the way it did.” Nastruz also said, had the subdivision had a homeowners’ association, they may not have bought the ponds in the first place.