RANTOUL — A village loan committee said it won’t consider a local company’s zero percent loan request until it cleans up its property and pays past-due utility bills owed to the village.
Amerinvest, which owns several properties on the former Chanute Air Force Base, made the request to the EDA Revolving Loan Committee last week.
The committee heard from two local residents who objected to the zero percent loan request.
John Killeen said Amerinvest “is creating an eyesore in our village by not maintaining their properties.”
He said he had photographs showing the growth and vegetation around 105 Borman.
“This growth is not only a public eyesore but also deep and dense enough to make police worry about what or who could be hiding there in the commission of a crime,” Killeen said.
He said there are also broken windows allowing rain in.
“It makes you wonder about the condition of the interior of the buildings,” he said. “It is also a violation of fire code ... (and) means of egress that would prevent the fire department from getting close enough to extinguish a fire.”
Killeen said he didn’t think the committee should make any recommendations that don’t include provisions for Amerinvest to clean up the properties.
He also said it is difficult to get access to the terms of the Amerinvest loan because the committee does not publish a packet of information like it does at village board meetings.
Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer said Amerinvest was originally loaned$372,810 at 4 percent interest June 5, 2018. It includes monthly payments of $5,445 for 78 months with a Dec. 15, 2024, maturity date. Current balance of the loan is $234,742.
Amerinvest is requesting the zero percent interest after the federal government earlier this year said those interest rates can be awarded to new and restructured loans as an economic stimulus during the pandemic.
Eisenhauer said the company is four months behind in utility payments to the village and owes $15,000.
Debbra Sweat echoed what Killeen noted about the condition of the properties. She also said she attended the human relations commission meeting last week and brought forth allegations of potential unfair housing practices by Amerinvest. The commission is not yet ready to handle such complaints, so she might raise the issue with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Sweat said she has been told Amerinvest is renting properties “as is” and expects the tenants to effect any repairs or upgrades they want to make such as painting.
“I don’t think that’s fair to the renters,” Sweat said. “The property looks terrible. There has been no upkeep.”
Sweat also said she believes additional information should be made available in loan requests.
“I think it should be posted so we don’t have to come in here blind (if we have) comments to make,” Sweat said.
She said Eisenhauer indicated much of the information would have to be redacted prior to giving it to the public.
Sweat said she also believes all committee meetings should be live on the village website because there are people who can’t attend during the day.
The loan committee said it would be willing to consider Amerinvest’s loan change request if its property conditions and utility problems are addressed.