When Brookfield Trustee David LeClere bought his home in the 4400 block of DuBois Boulevard in November 2006, he had 60 days to complete various improvements and pass a resale inspection.
On Monday, nearly four years later, LeClere finally passed that inspection but only after the village’s building department began to issue him daily tickets threatening a fine of up to $750 each day he failed to comply with that requirement.
The changes included a laundry list of updates from installing ground-fault outlets near sinks, hand rails for staircases and a service door on the garage to a major upgrade in the home’s electrical service.
According to records obtained by the Landmark through a Freedom of Information request, the village gave LeClere ample time to make the repairs after he bought his home and LeClere continued to stall for time to make them.
The first inspection at the home was done Nov. 10, 2006, prior to the sale of the building. While LeClere had 60 days after the sale to complete those repairs and have the home reinspected, it wasn’t until February 2009 that the village pressed the issue again.
On Feb. 4, 2009, LeClere received a notice to set up a resale inspection within three days or receive violation notices. The home failed an April 6, 2009, inspection and LeClere was given another 30 days to bring the home into compliance.
But it wasn’t until a year later, on April 15, 2010, that LeClere was issued any tickets for non-compliance or set up another inspection. That inspection happened on June 7, 2010. Again, LeClere failed the inspection.
But instead of being fined, the village’s blight adjudicator waived the tickets after LeClere applied for a building permit and agreed to get the work done. However, LeClere didn’t even pick up the permit until September when Keith Sbiral, the director of the village’s Building and Planning Department, did a random check of permit records.
LeClere set up another inspection Sept. 30, but canceled it at the last minute. By then, Sbiral had enough and began writing a ticket a day until LeClere’s house passed an inspection. That finally happened Oct. 11.
“I’m certain all the leeway that can possibly be given to a resident of Brookfield was given to the trustee,” said Sbiral.
Asked if LeClere was given more leeway because he was an elected official, Sbiral denied that implication.
“The favoritism suggestion, I pretty strongly said I don’t run the department that way,” he said. “To the extent it was an ongoing issue, I was going to have to draw a line in the sand at some point. It sets up an appearance that some people have one set of rules and some people have a different set. It shouldn’t be that way.”
LeClere blamed the long delay in complying with the resale inspection requirement to a number of factors. He bought the house in 2006. In 2007, he was elected trustee and got married. Upon the death of his father in 2009, LeClere spent more time working at the family’s local floral shop business. Day-to-day maintenance took up time.
And the repairs he needed to make were expensive.
“I didn’t have either the time or money I needed to get it going,” LeClere said. “If I had the time I didn’t have the money; if I had the money I didn’t have the time. I personally couldn’t afford to hire somebody to do the projects.”
LeClere also hinted at dissatisfaction with the resale inspection process in Brookfield, one he didn’t want to comment on immediately.
“I didn’t see any favoritism or anything like that coming out of the department,” he said. “I don’t want to comment on the process right at the moment. I don’t want people to think I’m pointing blame at anyone or making excuses.”
LeClere did bristle at comments included in the June 7 inspection report of his home, which indicated conditions inside his home were unsanitary and unsafe. He blamed the smell of feces and urine on a dog kept in a bedroom the day of the inspection and said it was not a reflection of living conditions in the home.
“After I got that report, I was livid,” LeClere said. “I saw that at the bottom and almost flipped out. I was horrified. As far as the wording, what [the inspector] wrote was uncalled for.
“My house is open to anyone. That was the only time I went in to ask for help.”
E-mails obtained by the Landmark from Sbiral to LeClere and Village President Michael Garvey clearly indicate LeClere’s displeasure with Sbiral and the inspection process in the second half of 2010.
“[Building and Planning] has been doing their job, and I don’t like it when Dave calls me unprofessional because I’m trying to help here,” Sbiral wrote to Garvey on Oct. 4. “It is most certainly time for him to listen if someone chooses to reach out.”
LeClere apologized to Sbiral later that day and set up his final inspection later that week.