Wheeling officials still aren't ready to approve plans for a low-income housing complex in town after another full meeting of the plan commission on Thursday heard many express concerns about parking, flooding and how the complex would affect the community.
PhilHaven, a 50-unit building made up of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for low-income residents with physical and/or mental disabilities, is proposed for 2418 W. Hintz Road in Wheeling and was discussed for five hours at a March 8 meeting before being continued to this month. The meeting again outlasted the commission's time and was continued to a future night.
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Daveri Development Group LLC is behind the proposal, in conjunction with the Kenneth Young Center and Alexian Brothers Health System, which will provide up to five case managers to help residents with vocational, wellness, socialization and other needs. Mark Bruski, CEO of the Kenneth Young Center, estimated that about two-thirds of the residents would be unemployed, but all residents would have to qualify for the housing through an income analysis. Residents would also go through a social service assessment and a criminal-background check -- felons or sex offenders would not be allowed to rent in the building.
Daveri Development was also behind a similar project that was rejected in Arlington Heights. A similar 39-unit building was approved in Mount Prospect, and construction will begin this year.
Underlying concerns about having residents who may have mental disabilities living in the facility were expressed by several residents who created signs urging commissioners to vote against the project.
Some members of the commission spoke in support of PhilHaven.
"I find the more I learn and understand, the less I fear and worry about these residents," said Commissioner Mike Burns, who toured a similar facility with developers this week. "They're already in our community, and this is just a better option for them, a better life."
Family members of possible tenants spoke again in support, often to applause from portions of the audience.
"I'm the mother of a child with a disability and I moved to Wheeling six years ago for the services," said resident Colleen McGill, whose daughter is now a mainstreamed student in town.
"She is working very hard to be just like all the other fifth-grade girls, except she's not. Part of my fight for my daughter has been to find the most appropriate environment for her," she said. "But most of my severe worries and biggest fears are what happens when she is old enough to be on her own. She know she may not be able to support herself on her own, but boy does she want to. It would be really nice not to have to move."
With the public hearing closed, the PhilHaven discussion will continue on April 26, when commissioners will debate finale recommendations before a vote on the overall project.