County Treasurer Responds To “Nasty Joe” Land Case In Urbana
In 2017, residents of the Timberline Valley South subdivision in northwest Champaign subdivision were surprised to find out their common drainage ponds had been bought up at a tax auction by a Chicago-area firm that threatened them with trespassing. Now, the same firm, Nasty Joe’s LLC, has acquired land in Urbana, and is threatening residents there.
Champaign County Treasurer John Farney says the two land parcels in Urbana bought by Nasty Joe’s were apparently separated from residential lots through surveyor’s errors.
One of the homeowners, Kim Harden-Ware, told her story to the Champaign County Board onJanuary 9. She says the county treasurer’s office failed to notify her and her neighbors that the property in her yard in southeast Urbana did not belong to her and was up for auction.
Harden-Ware says the postcard notice she should have received was addressed to the previous landowner and was returned to the county. Hardingware accuses the county of failing to follow up after that.
Now, she says Brian J. Nastruz of Nasty Joe’s LLC is demanding she pay $3200 to buy a 3.75 by 110 foot strip of land in her yard that he obtained for $648 at a county tax auction last spring. Hardinware says the land in question contains part of her fence, deck and pool.
“I’m seeking some help to find a way to rightfully possess this strip of land, before Nastruz sends his people to ‘clear my trash’, from his property, as he’s threatened to do twice now”, Hardinware told county board members.
Farney, who started as the new Champaign County treasurer just this month following the retirement of his predecessor, Dan Welch, says he wants to beef up the notification process, by mailing letters, not postcards, and by reaching out to more nearby property owners in such cases.
“I see some areas that, if the law allows me to, I can personally improve upon”, said Farney. “And we can do a better job of notifying people and communicating that.”
Farney says he has met with Harden-Ware, who has retained an attorney to explore legal options against Nasty Joe’s.
Harden-Ware also spoke to the Cunningham Township Board in Urbana on January 8. At that meeting, Town Board Chair and Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said she also wanted to look into the notification process when properties are put up for auction for delinquent taxes.
The circumstances surrounding Urbana properties differ from the drainage ponds at Timberlane Valley South. In that case, the property became tax delinquent because a homeowners association meant to look after the ponds was never formed at Timberlane Valley South, and individuals who had paid the taxes for a time eventually stopped doing so.
Timberlane Valley South residents finally voted to form a homeowners association in November.
(UPDATE: This story has been revised to change the spelling of Hardien-Ware's name and note her appearance before the Cunningham Township Board -- JM 1/15/18, 5/16/18)