February 20, 2014

City inspectors to visit Cherry Orchard

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Ariel view of Cherry Orchard property south of Rantoul.

File photo

Ariel view of Cherry Orchard property south of Rantoul.

By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess.org — Urbana city inspectors, under an agreement with Champaign County, may be visiting the Cherry Orchard property soon to inspect one of its eight buildings.

Cherry Orchard is a now vacant property south of Rantoul owned by the Ramos family, who used the property to house migrant workers.

For several years, Champaign County has pushed Eduardo and Bernard Ramos to repair the property’s broken septic system, which drained raw sewage across the property. The buildings were eventually closed and entrances barricaded following a judge’s order in 2011.

Over the years, Champaign County officials also followed up on unfounded rumors that the Ramos family kept one of the buildings – known as the Jones Building – open.

In 2011, arrest warrants were issued for both Eduardo and Bernard Ramos after they failed to appear in court as part of Champaign County’s case. Eduardo Ramos was arrested and released. The warrant for Bernard Ramos is still outstanding.

According to the February 2014 agreement between Urbana and Champaign County, officials remain concern that the Jones Building “presents a serious immediate threat to the life, health and safety of persons in the surrounding area.”

Inspectors will evaluate the building for demolition. Champaign County will seek a court order to inspect the building, said county Planning and Zoning director John Hall.

A solution to the Jones Building, which is now owned by an out-of-state bank, may bring a faster solution to the remaining buildings on the property, Hall said.

Read one woman’s account of living at Cherry Orchard:

http://www.cu-citizenaccess.org/content/cherry-orchard-resident-finds-relief-move