DOWNERS GROVE – Victoria Masciopinto wants to sell her home, but she says the condition of her neighbor’s property has made that endeavor nearly impossible.
Masciopinto has lived in her five-bedroom home in the 5400 block of Grand Avenue in Downers Grove for 20 years. She wants to downsize, but potential buyers quickly lose interest in her home when they see the neighboring property, she said.
“I have an eyesore as a neighbor who is not taking care of her property,” Masciopinto said at a recent Village Council meeting. “I’ve closed my eyes to it for 20 years. I can’t now because I can’t sell my house. Where do I go from here?”
Overgrown foliage can be found throughout the double-size lot. A broken-down pickup truck, box truck and other tarp-covered vehicles are located on the property, and a collection of tires, hubcaps, bumpers and lumber sit near the rear of the parcel.
The property is owned by Violet Radwell, who failed to meet the village's May 31 deadline to comply with property maintenance codes. As a result, she received citations for having an inoperable vehicle on her property and having barbed wire along her fence line, said Doug Kozlowski, the village's communications director. Radwell must appear in Downers Grove court in July.
"Those vehicles, including the dilapidated truck, are still there, as is the barbed wire strung along the parameter of her yard," Masciopinto said in an email to Robert Sandmann, the village code enforcement officer. "Please also note that while she took down the rickety car ports she erected throughout her yard, she has stacked all those materials under tarp, and now her yard includes hideous tarped piles of stacked rubbish, which will most certainly remain there as long as you let it all remain there."
Sandmann said he's considering citing Radwell for the tarp-covered lumber.
"I've asked her to relocate it to the back, we'll see," Sandmann said in an email to Masciopinto. "The court date won't be until at least July 10. We only have court once a month. I intend to check back with her on a weekly basis as we move forward."
The village is willing to help Radwell identify resources to help clean up the property, Kozlowski said.
Radwell must remove a large tree in order to accommodate the tow truck needed to remove the disabled box truck. She also is investigating the cost of tree removal.
Radwell said it will take time to complete the upkeep of the property.
"Everything I have to do I have to do one thing at a time," Radwell said. "I cannot do 20 things at once."
Radwell said she also must consider her health and limited finances.
"I am 73 years old. I have to take care of myself," she said.
Masciopinto, an attorney, said she plans to intervene as an interested party in code violation proceedings to "demonstrate to the judge the urgency in getting her to comply with the village code as her continued violations are severely and adversely impacting the sale of my home."
Radwell said she does not believe the condition of her property is the reason Masciopinto cannot sell her house.
"She overpriced her property," she said. "If you like the property, no matter what is next door, you will buy the property."
Masciopinto said she offered to pay for a storage shed and the removal of the truck but Radwell refused both offers.
Radwell denies such an offer was made.
Masciopinto first placed her house on the market about one year ago but had no luck selling. She said she believes her asking price was partly responsible for the lack of interest. She relisted the house in March, but feedback on surveys completed by potential buyers has been negative, she said.
At a recent open house, one couple walked halfway up the driveway before turning around and leaving, she said.
Masciopinto said she worries she won’t sell her house this year, forcing her to wait another year before relisting it.