John Deere wall owner fined $120,000

The owners of historic property that is falling down in Moline have been slapped with a $120,000 fine for city code violations.

However, Roger Colmark says he and his wife will either die of old age or file bankruptcy before the city ever sees a dime.

“What the city has created is economic slavery for anyone who buys a piece of property with a wall on it,” Colmark said at Friday’s hearing.

The wall in question was built in 1880 at the home of John Deere off 12th Street in Moline. The hill behind it  has been sliding onto the street and sidewalk below, especially after heavy rains, and  chunks of the wall are washed away.

On Friday, September 13, 2013, hearing officer Tom Skorepa, a Rock Island attorney, agreed the Colmarks were in violation of city code for not maintaining the wall and the property, and  leveled fines totaling $120,000.

Afterwards, Colmark said he would appeal the decision and predicted the issue would be tied up in court for years.

“All of this legal action is not going to get the wall fixed,” he said. “I’ll just file bankruptcy.”

Estimates for fixing the sagging slope have ranged between $500,000 to $700,000.

The Colmarks bought the property in the late 1990s with hopes of restoring the John Deere house that sits on top of the hill, the hill that is now shifting downward.

Colmark says he and his wife quit paying taxes on the two parcels of land and are not responsible for the problem any longer.

“I don’t have the money to pay it. Do you have $800,000?” he said.

The city says if Colmark ignores the fines, the case will end up in civil court.

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