Oak Lawn’s Mayor Sandra Bury and Trustee Robert Streit are taking different views on the Anthem Memory Care development that residents of Streit’s district overwhelmingly opposed at Monday’s Planning and Development Commission Meeting.
About 100 residents attended the meeting, causing the Planning and Development Commission Members to table a vote on a request to rezone the property. Mayor Sandra Bury and Trustee Terry Vorderer both spoke at the meeting arguing in favor of the proposed development at 101st and Major behind the Southwest Christian School. Both Bury and Vorderer insinuated that Streit had not provided all of the information necessary for the residents to determine that the proposal was a good idea. Streit told the Oak Lawn Leaf that the Village had not even provided the full packet of information to Trustees prior to the meeting.
Residents who attended the meeting presented concerns regarding the density of the sixty nine unit building, the fact it is two stories high, and the increase in traffic in an otherwise residential neighborhood. Some people noted that the traffic would end up traveling down various side streets in an area of parks, schools and homes.
Bury, however, was adamant at the Village Board meeting the next night that the residents who attended were passionate but uninformed. Bury stated, “based on the comments there was a lot of confusion about what is being proposed…”. She added that the representative from Anthem Memory Care did not expect the huge crowd and wasn’t prepared for the questions. She claimed that the representatives photos were small and implied that larger photos would have helped clear up misconceptions held by the public.
While the Planning and Development meeting lasted over three hours, Bury said that she wants to have another meeting to explain the development to the residents in the area and to describe the process of development in the village. Bury said that “residents left with more questions than answers” and were “confused about the process and why are they hearing about it now”. On Facebook she defended the village’s timing of providing notices to some of the residents.
Bury also spent significant time on Facebook pages debating the merits of the development with residents in that area. In several instances she blamed Streit for not providing “all” the information to residents. It is a similar complaint that she lodged earlier in the week when Streit issued a district newsletter asking residents for their opinions on the development.
Several of the residents argued with Bury in Facebook posts as she continued to insist that there was “confusion about the project”. One resident told the Mayor to “…Stop treating the people of the neighborhood as if they are stupid. There is no confusion…we know what is going in…We don’t want it. Obviously there must be something monetary in the village for you to want it this so bad”.
Streit spoke near the end of the Planning and Development Commission and said he believes that based on the comments Anthem should move the project to another area in the village. He said he would be happy to work with the developer and other village officials to find a location that is not in the middle of a residential neighborhood. He said the residents in the neighborhood are raising families on quiet residential streets and don’t like the idea of the increase in traffic and other issues.
All six Trustees, the Mayor and the Village Manager attended the meeting on Monday and heard the complaints from residents. Trustee Vorderer tried to compare the development with the Advocate Christ Hospital additions. However, the hospital is located in a commercial area on 95th Street.