Changes requested over violations

There have been complaints of drug trafficking at the apartments.
NILES -- City building inspectors are asking the manager of Royal Mall Apartments to make changes after housing code violations were found at the site.
Stephen J. Yovich Jr., a housing maintenance code enforcement officer for Niles, sent apartment complex manager Mike Romane a letter last week, stating an inspection of 66 of the complex's 165 apartments found several code violations.
The most frequent and serious code violation at the complex on Royal Mall Drive is a lack of smoke detectors, according to the letter.
Niles' housing code requires there be one operable smoke detector on each floor of a dwelling -- but that is not the case at Royal Mall, according to the letter.
"In some instances the tenant removed the smoke alarm," Yovich wrote. "In others, the battery was missing or not replaced when it became dead."
Other code violations included:
*One tenant living in the basement.
*No guardrails or handrails on steps.
*Electrical outlets without fire safety features.
*Wall and ceiling damage.
*Kitchen cabinets in poor condition.
Yovich also asked Romane to repair and paint the exteriors of the buildings, which have deteriorated because of a "lack of basic and ongoing maintenance."
Romane would not comment despite repeated attempts by The Vindicator.
Deadline set
Royal Mall has 30 days to fix the interior code violations, according to the letter. Once the interior violations are corrected, the building inspector's office will set up a timetable to complete the exterior renovations.
If Royal Mall does not comply, complaints will be filed in Niles Municipal Court, which could cost the complex 100 per day for each violation, Yovich said.
The inspections were recommended by city council's safety committee in December and are part of the Niles' officials attempts to clean up the complex, said Councilman Thomas Scarnecchia, D-at-large. There have been complaints of drug trafficking at Royal Mall and residents' trespassing on private property around the complex.
"Most of the people who live there are good people," Scarnecchia said. "It's the minority that is causing the problem."
City officials are hoping that the complex -- owned by Michael Feiner of Colorado -- will be sold to Connecticut-based Vesta Corp., Scarnecchia said. Vesta has promised to make 7 million worth of improvements to the apartments.
The code enforcement officers plan to complete their inspections of the other 99 apartments in the complex by Feb. 5.

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