Anthem Memory Care appeared before Oak Lawn’s Planning & Development Commission Monday night, again looking for approval to build a facility in a residential area. The question was whether or not the Commission would listen to the overwhelming majority of residents.
The May 16th, 2016, P&D meeting was Anthem’s second appearance before the commission. The first appearance, March 21st, ended without any official action being taken on the Anthem petitions. That meeting was filled to overflowing with attendees who showed up to oppose the proposed development.
Since that time, two neighborhood meetings have been held on the proposal. On March 30th, Trustee Robert Streit (District 3) held a meeting to allow an overflow crowd of residents to express their opinions on the development. On April 19th, Mayor Sandra Bury held another meeting, where Anthem and Southwest Chicago Christian School representatives further presented their plans to another large crowd.
Since the original P&D meeting, residents have organized their opposition movement. A petition drive has drawn many signatures, a website full of information has appeared called Keep 101st Commercial Free, and residents across the Village have taken to calling and emailing Trustees.
The Commission heard the petition from Anthem’s representatives, including the principal owner Isaac Scott. Scott once again made the case for his company. One point repeated by Scott was that the plans had been changed in light of recent opposition, with the structure moving further back from the neighboring houses to the west. There was some confusion as to whether the distance was 11, 17, or 21 feet back.
The audience was once again overflowing the meeting room, lining up in the halls to listen. Many residents took the opportunity to address the Commission, their fellow residents, and the Anthem representatives present. Among the questions posed to Anthem was why they wouldn’t consider the 111th & Cicero TIF property near Mariano’s as an alternative site. Anthem’s representatives stated that the TIF district’s zoning did not allow for that usage. But then, neither does the R1 zone that Anthem is requesting a Special Use variance for.
After public comments from attendees, Commissioners voted to recommend approval of the petition, with the lone dissenting vote cast by Commissioner Matt Egan. Many residents left in disgust immediately after the votes were cast. After the meeting closed, residents gathered outside the doors, discussing what had just transpired. At least one teary-eyed resident expressed that she would be putting her house on the market the next day.
The next step in the process, which Commissioner Bill Lundy stressed repeatedly, is for Anthem is to appear before the Board of Trustees. Members of the Board of Trustees were also in attendance. Mayor Bury, Village Manager Larry Deetjen, and Trustees Streit, Mike Carberry (District 6), Bud Stalker (District 5) sat in the audience. Trustee Streit, who spoke in opposition to the petition, was the only member of the Board to address the Commission.
It was stated that the petition would appear on the May 24th Board of Trustees meeting agenda. The Board would need to vote to allow the Special Use variance.