Trustee Robert Streit (District 3) held a neighborhood meeting last night to allow neighbors of the Southwest Chicago Christian School to meet one another and discuss a proposed development on the school property. Anthem Memory Care plans to build a memory care facility at 101st & Major, in the middle of a low density residential zone.
On March 21st, the Village held a Planning & Development Committee meeting during which the memory care facility plans were discussed. This was the first public meeting on the proposed plans. Anthem Memory Care was petitioning for a Special Use Permit to allow the memory care facility in a Single-Family Planned Unit Development zoning district. Anthem was also petitioning to subdivide two lots on the Southwest Christian School property.
At that meeting, neighbors turned out en masse to voice their objection to the development. The overflow crowd was at times in contention with Village officials, such as Mayor Bury, who spoke up in support of the development. Many left the meeting feeling as though they’d been dismissed without a chance to adequately voice their objections.
Trustee Streit stressed that his goal for last night’s meeting was simply to listen to the neighbors, to allow anyone in the affected area to voice their concerns. The meeting was attended by over 100 people. Many of the attendees took Streit up on his offer, taking the microphone to express their thoughts to their neighbors. At the end of the night, the overwhelming majority of speakers seemed to have the same message, that the facility would offer much needed services, but that it was ill-suited for their neighborhood, which is not zoned for that sort of development.
Sue Andrews, who lives across the street from the proposed development, reached out to the Leaf prior to the meeting, concerned that nobody was listening to the opinion of the actual neighbors. “We are long time residents of the village and the concern is not only for our neighborhood but for the entire community. Once a precedent is set to allow a commercial facility in a residential neighborhood what will happen?” Sue also told the Leaf, “It seems to be a foregone conclusion that the village will approve this no matter what we say.”
Streit offered to support his constituents in their efforts to stop the planned development. “This is their neighborhood,” Streit said after the meeting. “It doesn’t seem like the Mayor or the other Trustees really care what the people who live here think. This has happened before in Oak Lawn. The Village administration tried to pass off a low-income subsidized housing development on unwilling residents. I stood with the neighbors then, just like I am today.”
Trustee Terry Vorderer attended the meeting and when called upon by Streit said that he was attending the meeting to hear what the residents had to say. The Village’s Economic Development Director Steve Radice was also in attendance and answered a couple of questions posed by residents. Village Manager Larry Deetjen was also introduced by Streit but he stood in the back of the room and did not answer any questions or volunteer to speak about the development.