After a marathon meeting, most Arlington Heights village board members said early Tuesday they’re in favor of a proposed three-story, 25-unit permanent supportive housing development for people with disabilities and veterans on South Arlington Heights Road.
But because of the peculiarities of state zoning laws, the project requires one more vote from a village trustee to be approved.
Officials with Chicago-based nonprofit affordable housing developer Full Circle Communities now plan to revise their proposal and return to the village board in hopes of earning that final vote.
The 6-3 roll call of the elected panel came just after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, following 3½ hours of presentations from the developer and village staff, questioning by board members, and public comment from supporters and opponents in a packed village boardroom and neighboring overflow room.
Because of a village’s plan commission voted 4-3 against recommending the project, a two-thirds majority of village trustees is needed. Mayor Tom Hayes, who is in favor of the proposal, wouldn’t get to vote on the final ordinance in this case, under state law.
That means any of the three trustees who voted against the project early Tuesday would have to change their mind. Two of them, Jim Tinaglia and Jim Bertucci, said they’re open to it, so long as the developer makes changes to the orientation of the proposed building at 1519 S. Arlington Heights Road.
“I’m not so sure this hasn’t been vetted out properly,” Tinaglia said. “I want to approve this project, but it needs to be worked out further.”
Trustee Scott Shirley said he wouldn’t vote for anything above two stories, since that’s the maximum allowed within the property’s office-transitional zoning. The developer is seeking a rezoning to institutional use.
Trustees questioned why the building entrance and 41-space parking lot is proposed to be in the rear of property, just to the west of single-family homes. Officials say that’s so the building itself could be closer to Arlington Heights Road and farther away from neighboring homes on the east property line, allowing more room for a landscape buffer of 67 trees and a 6-foot fence.
But nearly two dozen of the neighbors who addressed the board argued no matter how the building is situated, it’s the wrong location for such a development. They raised a host of concerns, including privacy (because of the three-story building height), brightness from lights, and diminished property values.
“We do not oppose helping veterans and disabled people,” said Michella Schoot. “We are just opposing the location.”
Supporters, meanwhile, said the need for housing for that population is great, amid extensive waitlists at similar developments that have been built, including Heart’s Place in Arlington Heights, Myers Place in Mount Prospect and PhilHaven in Wheeling. About a dozen advocates, many wearing “yes” badges, spoke at the meeting.
Hugh Brady, co-president of the North — Northwest Suburban Task Force on Supportive Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness, came to Full Circle after the group sought out properties in Arlington Heights for a potential housing development. They found only three vacant parcels that could work, including the long-vacant land on Arlington Heights Road, Brady said.
“If not now, when? If not here, where?” Brady said. “Based on the work we have done, there is no other where.”
Called Grace Terrace, the building would contain 20 one-bedroom and five two-bedroom independent living units available for rent to people with physical or mental disabilities, with a preference to veterans. Tenants would make between 30% and 50% of area median income (or about $23,000 to $38,000), and receive rental assistance through vouchers from the Housing Authority of Cook County.
The $13 million project is mostly being financed by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, with some state and private grants and a private loan, according to project manager Denise Reyes. A financial closing is scheduled at the beginning of 2024.
Village officials said it’s unclear how long the project revisions could take or when it would return to the board.