Daily Journal 06-25-2008 (House Mold)

Daily Journal 06-25-2008 (House Mold)

Unresponsive builder has Bourbonnais residents fuming

Dozens of angry homeowners Tuesday jammed a meeting room at the Bourbonnais Public Library to join forces in opposition to struggling South Barrington-based Kennedy Homes, the firm they claim is neglecting their new subdivision and failing to live up to promises made when it sold new homes in Eagle Creek, among other area developments.

Kennedy is in serious financial trouble and in danger of becoming insolvent, according to published reports. That fate seems consistent with the comments of residents here, who said they’ve been unable to talk to someone from the builder about vacant lots, half finished houses, leaky basements, poor workmanship and construction waste found dumped in their neighborhoods.

Kennedy is known for its ubiquitous advertisements touting “big houses, low prices.”

Residents said adding insult to injury is the fact that village officials have reportedly told them they won’t get involved in the dispute with the builder, even though their subdivision is within the municipal limits. What’s more, homeowners said their taxes have risen by as much as $2,000 in a single year, even as they fear the mess left by Kennedy will drag down their home values in an already soft national market.

“All of us here are voters, and we all pay taxes,” said Beatriz Martinez, who lives at 640 Eagle Creek. “No one wants to claim responsibility for this.”

While he doesn’t live in any Kennedy development, Ron Hanson of Bourbonnais attended Tuesday’s meeting out of concern for his fellow residents.

“They (village officials) did not supervise these people at all,” he said. “This is something that hurts everybody in the village.”

While attorney Diane Tomic said Kennedy has been responsive to her calls for maintenance for her home in another Kennedy development, she still worries her subdivision will remain largely vacant for good. Now, the former Limestone resident said, there are only a handful of houses built in a development initially planned for as many as 40.

“Who are they going to sell these lots to?” she said. “You can just hear the wind blow through there.”

Attempts to reach Bourbonnais Mayor Paul Schore for comment were unsuccessful late Monday.

In response to neighborhood concerns, Naywona Graham is organizing the residents into a homeowner’s association – the main goal of Tuesday’s meeting. She began organizing her neighbors out of frustration with how the purchase of her new home in the area has worked out after a year in town.

“We moved down here from Chicago for a better life,” she said. “And now we are dealing with this.”

Once they are organized, the group plans to take their concerns not only to Kennedy, but to municipal leaders. To that end, they plan to attend a July 7 Bourbonnais Village Board meeting. And they are planning a town hall meeting for July 29 to focus more attention on their issues.

“If (Schore) comes to the town hall, he’ll know what he is up against,” Graham said. “That’s the only way we’ll be taken seriously.”

Note: Attorney Thomas Zimmerman filed a lawsuit against Kennedy Homes on behalf of a homeowner whose house developed mold.

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