Weeds, vacant homes take Flossmoor village board spotlight

High, uncut weeds at vacant houses are dangerous, resident Ana Washington told the Flossmoor Village Board Monday.

“I can only think of the little kids,” said Washington, an 11-year resident of the Heather Hill neighborhood. “Someone could hide in those weeds. Some child could get hurt and we’d never know about it until it was too late.”

Washington brought pictures of high weeds in her neighborhood. She asked board members, and the village police department, to take prompt action so that overgrown weeds do not become dangerous for more vulnerable Flossmoor residents.

“My husband and I are putting our house up for sale,” she said. “We are disgusted.”

Washington said she and her husband moved to Flossmoor from Orland Park to be closer to her daughter’s family. She said she loves the community but that the number of poorly maintained “abandoned homes” has become ample incentive for them to leave.

“We are even thinking of giving our house away,” she said.

Mayor Paul Braun said village officials are doing everything possible so that vacant homes still meet Flossmoor codes. Braun said he and other board members are willing to meet with Washington and her neighbors to take a look at conditions in Heather Hill, and work with them to resolve any problems.

“We don’t want you to move,” he said.

Braun explained that most vacant homes are the result of bank foreclosures. Once a house goes into foreclosure, he said, the question of ownership can be tied up in the legal system for years. Sometimes residents stay in their homes following foreclosure and the village must take action to get them out of the property. However, he said, banks are usually more responsive about their responsibility to maintain the property once they have clear title.

In the past two weeks, the police department’s community service officer has been “very busy” notifying property owners when weeds are high, Braun said. Recent rains have brought a bumper crop of dandelions that have become all too apparent at houses where lawns are not cut on a regular basis.

“There are quite a few houses on the CSO’s list,” Police Chief Michael Pulec said.

Washington was accompanied by her husband and three neighbors. They agreed with her about the challenges facing their neighborhood.

“When can you come out?” Dorothy Brown, a 38-year resident, asked board members.

“How about Saturday?” Braun said.

The mayor, accompanied by some board members tentatively agreed to meet with the residents this weekend.

“We are working hard to keep our neighborhood up to snuff,” Brown said.

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