O'Fallon officials battle with resident over haunted house on front yard - KMOV.com

O'Fallon officials battle with resident over haunted house on front yard

O’FALLON, Ill. (KMOV) – The city of O’Fallon is battling a resident over a haunted yard officials say is unsafe.

Walter Denton, an O’Fallon city administrator, told News 4 the structure on the front lawn of resident Sean Stephenson is dangerous and violates zoning and building ordinances.

According to Denton, the city deemed Stephenson’s house unsafe last year, but allowed him to keep it up under the condition he wouldn’t build it again in 2012.

The structure contains wooden frames, sheets of plastic and a lot of wiring strung throughout for lights.

Denton said the city sent Stephenson a cease and desist letter on Tuesday after he failed to take down the haunted yard over the weekend. He had a Wednesday deadline to remove the structure, but Stephenson said he’s not ready to give up the fight.

“The city is not willing to work with me, they’d rather steamroll me over,” Stephenson said. “What’s the difference between someone having a yard sale or someone having a graduation party or wedding reception?”

City officials said Stephenson was also making the haunted house a public event, which he does not have the proper permits for.

“We don’t have an issue with the displays,” Denton said. “Everybody loves to decorate, we’re not against fun. There’s a life-safety issue and as well as a common courtesy issue having a public event in a residential area.”

Denton said they would allow the structure if it was built on commercial property.

But Stephenson said the event should not be considered commercialized because it’s free. He said he collects Halloween costumes for the needy and any donations given to him goes right back into putting on the haunted display. He’s put up the yard for three years now.

In 2011, Stephenson said about 1000 people came to his haunted house.

The city doesn’t want to play hardball or make a scene, but Stephenson could face a fine of up to
$750 a day as long as it all remains.

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