Four months and five court appearances later, a judge recommended the Village of Palatine’s lawsuit against former councilman, Warrern Kostka go to trial.
“The judge felt the two sides were just too far apart,” Kostka said after the Aug. 24 court hearing.
Even though the two parties wanted to avoid a trial, Kostka said it does not look like this case will be resolved without one. “What we’re saying and what they’re saying is just so far apart."
“This should have been done a long time ago,” Palatine's attorney Patrick Brankin said to a judge in court.
According to court documents from the July 24 hearing, a judge ruled that all outstanding violations, except those involving major structural issues on Kostka’s property at 108 N. Forest Avenue must be brought into compliance no later than August 23. Any structural engineer’s report must be completed by August 23.
Exactly one month later, the day after the judge’s deadline, Kostka was back in court Friday morning. “I’ve made it look better,” Kostka said, “All the little unrelated things in the yard have been taken care of.” Still, Kostka admitted several of the alleged violations on his property at 108 N. Forest Avenue have not been fixed. “I’m willing to work with the village,” Kostka said, “But some things can’t be done.”
According to Kostka, his cost — repairs, flood damage, etc. — is in excess of six figures. Kostka said his home is worthless because of structural damage from years of flooding, and he will not invest another cent.
Kostka presented a structural engineer’s report at the Aug. 24 court hearing. “I don’t think they liked what the report said so they belittled it,” Kostka said the report detailed the damages to his home. In his mind, Kostka said the report proved his claim that the Village of Palatine is responsible for the structural damage to his home. However, the engineer’s report did not did cite the cause(s) of the damages to his property. Kostka said, “They snubbed their nose at the engineering report I provided today.”
Kostka contends that a federally mandated project to separate Palatine's sanitary sewer and storm water system in the 1980s resulted in more water heading toward Kostka's home at 108 N. Forest Avenue.
The dispute has been over what to do about it, how much fault the village has and how much Kostka's home has actually been damaged by flooding.
With the hope that an engineer could positively identify the cause of the damages to his home, Kostka said he plans to get another structural engineer’s report done before the next court hearing in September. “Those aren’t free either,” said Kostka, “That’s money coming out of my pocket.” The village did not ask for another report but Kostka insisted.
“They’re responsible for what has happened to my house and they’re trying to blame me for what they’ve done,” said Kostka.
Palatine is suing Kostka over several alleged violations on his property at 108 N. Forest Avenue. In addition to a fine of $500 per day per violation, the village is seeking an injunction to force Kostka to correct the violations and to also pay the cost of the village’s legal fees.
The Village of Palatine claims the home and property at 108 N. Forest Avenue is “in disrepair” because the owner, Kostka failed to maintain it. “According to the village it’s property maintenance,” Kostka said, “They just keep telling me to get things up to code.”
Kostka claims he’s already put thousands of dollars into repairs, “Now, they have the audacity to tell me to bring it up to code and I don’t even want to put a dollar amount on that.”
In January, the village conducted a visual inspection of Kostka’s property and discovered several ordinance violations consisting of:
- Changes to the property's grading that have been done in a manner as to create a nuisance that consist of deep trenches with unstable and hazardous side slopes; sand bags; various spoil piles of dirt, asphalt and concrete remaining on property; fabric fencing; exposed dirt areas with no permanent or temporary vegetative cover.
- Missing sections of siding, gutters and downspouts, handrails and guardrails.
- Broken pane of glass in the south elevation window.
- Driveway in disrepair.
- Wood boards lying on the roof.
At the May 17 court hearing a judge said the village would dismiss the case if Kostka addressed the property violations. Progress was then made at the June 20 court hearing, Palatine and Kostka reached an agreement regarding several alleged violations on his property. Kostka has since addressed some non-structural issues on his property, such as filling the trenches, trimming the tall grass and weeds and removing the fabric fencing and the asphalt and concrete slabs.
The village and Kostka seemed to be working together to set up a time frame for complaince but Kostka's home is still not up to code and now the case is back at a standstill. “I don’t agree with anything the village said in there,” a frustrated and shocked Kostka said after Friday’s court hearing.
The two parties will return to Cook County Court on Sept. 29 for the next hearing. If nothing changes by that time and no agreement is made, Kostka said a judge will set a date for a bench trial to begin.
Editor's Note: This story originally referenced another article that stated that no one disputed Kostka's contention that a federally mandated project to separate Palatine's sanitary sewer and storm water system in the 1980s resulted in more water heading toward his home. The village does dispute this point and both stories have been corrected.