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updated: 5/8/2012 11:01 AM

Group asks Arlington Hts. to allow housing for mentally ill

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  • Mount Prospect Mayor Irvana Wilks welcomes everyone to the groundbreaking for Myers Place in Mount Prospect. Several community leaders and project partners spoke about the importance of the project and the opportunities it will create for its residents and the surrounding community.

       Mount Prospect Mayor Irvana Wilks welcomes everyone to the groundbreaking for Myers Place in Mount Prospect. Several community leaders and project partners spoke about the importance of the project and the opportunities it will create for its residents and the surrounding community.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 

A group calling itself Good Neighbors Campaign presented what leaders said was almost 2,000 signatures Monday asking the Arlington Heights village board to allow the building of apartments for people with mental illness and to settle a lawsuit brought by the developer.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 attended the meeting, but not all were there for this issue.

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Five people spoke on behalf of the group and one resident spoke against the project called Boeger Place, which was proposed just east of Arlington Heights Road and south of Dundee Avenue.

The village board refused by a 4-3 vote in May 2010 to allow the variances required for the 30 apartments to be built on slightly less than an acre. A federal lawsuit was filed the same year charging the village violated fair housing laws.

The members of the campaign asked trustees to meet one at a time with representatives.

But Village Attorney Jack Siegel said "the basic policy of this village is you don't discuss pending litigation. Obviously you are going to listen to anybody that is going to speak."

Village President Arlene Mulder also said she met with some supporters after the board rejected the variances, and the group's sentiment is not lost on trustees.

Siegel has said in the past the board's action was purely a zoning decision.

The most fiery statement was from the Rev. Rex Piercy, pastor of Congregational United Church of Christ, but he was not present, and it was read by another supporter.

"It is an injustice, not to mention mostly likely an illegality, for this community to construct or perpetuate barriers for persons with mental illness to be part of this village's life. I say it bluntly: NIMBY doesn't cut it. Hiding behind 'Cadillac' zoning laws and 'too many variances' doesn't cut it."

The petition says hundreds of Arlington Heights residents need such housing, and in similar lawsuits, "courts have ordered municipalities to allow the building of this kind of housing and even directed them to pay very high damage awards."

It also points out that the village has spent more than $180,000 to fight the lawsuit.

In neighboring Mount Prospect, a groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday for a similar project at Dempster Avenue and Busse Road that the Mount Prospect village board approved unanimously.

Myers Place will have 39 units and about 3,500 square feet of commercial space.

Kenneth Young Center, a mental health agency based in Elk Grove Village, will provide services at Myers Place. Daveri Development Group is involved with both the Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect projects, as well as one proposed for Wheeling.

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