Oak Lawn’s Mayor Sandra Bury held a meeting Tuesday night for Anthem Memory Care’s proposed commercial development in a low-density residential zone. Despite what some attendees described as an exhausting presentation by Anthem and Village officials, residents did not walk away convinced.
The meeting, organized by Mayor Bury, started at 7:30pm and lasted almost three hours. Residents, Village officials, representatives of Southwest Chicago Christian School and Anthem Memory Care filled the school’s gymnasium. The size of the crowd was estimated over 200.
Anthem gave an oral presentation, including a projected PowerPoint presentation, which lasted about half an hour. The presentation was followed by a question & answer session, which lasted for more than two hours.
Anthem’s proposal would put a memory care facility in the middle of a low-density residential zone. The proposed 2.2 acre site is currently open green space and a school bus depot. The proposed facility would be a two-story structure with 66 units, that could house 80 people with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and other memory related illnesses, and employ about 40 people.
Neighbors have organized in opposition to the location of this facility, starting a petition drive. Neighbors have also put together an informational website. The website, Keep 101st Commercial Free, offers the neighbors’ viewpoint on the proposed development. It also provides information on Anthem Memory Care, the proposed site, comparisons to other Anthem sites in other locations, and useful links to municipal code about the topic. Isaac Scott, owner of Anthem Memory Care, encouraged people to visit the website.
At last night’s meeting, neighbors spoke up about their concerns, directly addressing the officials present. Along with Mayor Bury, Trustees Bud Stalker (District 5), Terry Vorderer (District 4), and Bob Streit (District 3) were also present. Among the concerns were parking, storm water detention and flooding, ambulance & delivery truck traffic, employee congestion, zoning issues, and the size of the facility.
A resident asked what would happen if the business didn’t work out financially, if it would become condos or apartments. Isaac Scott tried to reassure the crowd that wouldn’t happen.
“If it were apartments or condos,” Streit elaborated after the meeting, “it would require 132 parking spaces under Oak Lawn’s current zoning code. They’ve put 37 into their proposal.”
At one point, a resident asked about alternate arrangements on the school site, placing the facility closer to Central Avenue and the school. Joel Satterly, the school’s Superintendent, said that they looked at other options, but they didn’t want to encroach too closely on the school or the children. This caused many neighbors in the crowd to grumble about the facility encroaching upon their homes.
As the meeting came to a close, a resident asked for a show of hands from those who were still opposed to the proposed development. The overwhelming majority of attendees raised their hands.
Don Andersen, who explained that he was on the Planning & Development Commission for 20 years said to the Oak Lawn officials present, “You have to listen to us. We elected you.”
One neighbor who attended and wished to remain unnamed, expressed doubt that the Mayor cared. “It doesn’t seem to matter that nearly every neighbor is opposed to this. They’re going to ram this through while belittling us for being misinformed. We aren’t misinformed. We sat here and listened. We still don’t want this commercial development in our residential neighborhood.”