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Balconies, Zoning, Special Assessments, Oh My

Let’s talk about balconies (and de-annexation, zoning, and special assessments if you don’t have a balcony). If you’ve attended any of the board meetings, you know that Daiva loves to talk about the balconies. She touts how they’ve increased our property values by $20,000. She berates those who haven’t replaced their railings as being insubordinate. She insists that all the balcony railings were unsafe and were required by law to be replaced. All of this is, in fact, false.

Here’s the truth. Let’s go back to May of 2009. A special assessment was issued through April 2014 with a blended rate of about $125/month. This was meant to raise $2M+ to come into compliance with the Village of Lisle safety code. Guess what was not on the list. That’s right, balcony railings. Guess what was on the list. Indoor sprinklers in the event of a fire. Do we have sprinklers? No. And we also don’t have a whole host of other items that were supposed to get us into compliance. So where did the special assessment money go?

When the current board took over in 2014, they stopped making improvements to comply with the Village of Lisle safety codes. Instead, they de-annexed from the Village so they wouldn’t have to comply. So whathappened to the special assessment money that was supposed to get us into compliance? Smoke detectors and fire doors do not cost $2M.

Contrary to what the Board wants you to believe, by de-annexing our problems have not gone away. In fact, they may have gotten worse and more costly. We are now under the jurisdiction of the County of DuPage. By de-annexing we were automatically placed into the most restrictive zoning: R1 (Single-family residential). Lisle Place is a multi-building 279-unit condominium complex. We are illegally non-conforming and have already received fines from the County of DuPage. They will soon be suing our Association if we don’t file the appropriate paperwork and make the same improvements we were supposed to make under the Village of Lisle!

Back to the balcony railings. The Board forced everyone to replace, not paint or repair, their balcony railings. Why? This wasn’t even on the list of safety violations from the Village of Lisle. Not that it mattered because they weren’t trying to even comply with the list. So why were they so determined that everyone replace their railing? Using their welder and installer? And why did they not get permits even though they were required to by law?

We don’t have answers to the first two questions, but here’s the answer to the third: the railings won’t pass inspection. To get a permit with the County of DuPage for a balcony railing, you need an architect stamp on your design specifications for the railing. No architect will stamp their design. Why? Because it will rust from the inside out within a few years. There are two types of pieces of the railing they installed: a frame and picket assembly. They are screwed together with sheet metal screws. At every screw is a rust point.

Furthermore, the picket assemblies have a C-channel groove that sits upside down on the top railing. Rain will seep in from above and sit in that channel. It will rust from the inside out. And the Board wants you to now get a permit for your railing. You will find this impossible because the County of DuPage is not issuing permits to anybody because we are zoned improperly. This goes for a new A/C, electrical or plumbing work, and of course, your balcony railing.

A free and fair election is coming. Our attorney is currently in negotiations with the Board and their attorneys around how it will be governed. Look out for nominees for a new Board soon. Please contribute to our legal fund. We are not done in court and we know this Board will fight. You can do so here:

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