Elmhurst neighbors still concerned with revised nursing home plan

Elmhurst Extended Care Center representatives were back before the Elmhurst Zoning and Planning Commission Thursday with a revised expansion plan they said addressed many of the concerns raised by neighbors on Fremont Avenue."This proposal is really...

Elmhurst neighbors still concerned with revised nursing home plan

Elmhurst Extended Care Center representatives were back before the Elmhurst Zoning and Planning Commission Thursday with a revised expansion plan they said addressed many of the concerns raised by neighbors on Fremont Avenue.

"This proposal is really a modified plan and one that wouldn't need (zoning code) variation," attorney Scott Day told commission members.

The revised plan shifts some of the proposed expansion to a new second story on part of the center's existing building on Lake Street, eliminates most fencing around a proposed staff parking lot off Fremont and substantially reduces both the footprint and the lot coverage of a new building proposed to front on Fremont. Day said the new design also complies with zoning requirements for lot coverage and setbacks.

But 11 Fremont neighbors who spoke against the project were unconvinced, continuing to object to what they call a commercial building in a residential neighborhood and telling commission members they feared increased traffic and loss of value in their homes.

"It's a great business, it's a great service, it's just not compatible with the neighborhood," said John McNichols, who lives just west of the proposed expansion site.

McNichols and his wife, Julie, who also spoke, said they were particularly concerned with the western wall of the proposed new building, which they said would rise more than 30 feet above their backyard.

The case began last year with a request by Elmhurst Extended Care Center for zoning changes, a conditional use permit and possible zoning variations to allow it to build a new building with 40 private rooms on lots it owns south of its present facility at 200 E. Lake St. Those lots front on Fremont Avenue, putting the proposed new building and an 11-car staff parking area between existing single family homes.

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An proposal for a drop-off day-care center in downtown Elmhurst is going back for review after the committee chairman said emails about Police and Fire department safety concerns were circulated recently to other aldermen, but not to him and his committee.

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(Graydon Megan)

In the revised proposal, as Day emphasized, no new beds are proposed. The facility is now licensed by the state of Illinois for 108 beds and that number won't change with the proposed expansion. What would change is the shift to private rooms, a shift Love Dave, who with his family owns the center, said in a previous hearing will significantly upgrade the comfort and privacy of patients, most of whom are now in 3- and 4-bed rooms. The new plan also includes several gathering spaces for patients.

The nursing home is asking the city to rezone the Fremont parcels, either as commercial shopping and service, limited general residential or single family residential. In all zones, nursing homes are a conditional use.

Day said the new proposal is fully compliant with city requirements in the all three zoning districts without any variations. He cited the Fair Housing Act as offering protections to nursing home residents, especially those with disabilities, and called on city officials to make a reasonable accommodation for the center's plan.

Elmhurst neighbors claim nursing home expansion will hurt property values Graydon Megan

An Elmhurst nursing home's proposal to expand where neighbors say only single-family homes belong drew more than 30 speakers Thursday to a continued public hearing before the city's Zoning Commission, whose members set Jan. 12 for deliberations.

That is when commission members will begin work on...

An Elmhurst nursing home's proposal to expand where neighbors say only single-family homes belong drew more than 30 speakers Thursday to a continued public hearing before the city's Zoning Commission, whose members set Jan. 12 for deliberations.

That is when commission members will begin work on...

(Graydon Megan)

Day said the process of a public hearing is supposed to let residents bring in their concerns and that his client had responded to those concerns by altering its plans. Nursing home consultants said this week that cars using the small staff parking lot will generate less traffic than would the three single family homes that could be built on the lots. Drainage and stormwater management on the site meets or exceeds both city and DuPage County requirements, a consultant said.

"You can attach conditions to conditional use," Day concluded. "You can hold us to what we say we are going to use the site for."

While Day said the project has met all the standards for conditional use and for the map amendments needed to change zoning, that is for commission members to decide.

They will begin deliberation on the case at a meeting beginning at 7 p.m. March 9, at City Hall, 209 N. York St.

Graydon Megan is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

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