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updated: 3/20/2013 3:02 PM

Neighbors unhappy about Arlington Hts. church expansion

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  • A home on Douglas directly behind the church.

       A home on Douglas directly behind the church.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Homes on Haddow directly behind Orchard Evangelical Free Church will be affected by the proposed parking lot expansion.

       Homes on Haddow directly behind Orchard Evangelical Free Church will be affected by the proposed parking lot expansion.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

Plans to demolish eight homes to expand a church parking lot in Arlington Heights have some neighbors worried.

The village of Arlington Heights has not approved any plans yet, but several residents attended Monday's village board meeting asking the village to intervene with Orchard Evangelical Free Church's plans to tear down eight homes and expand its parking lot.

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Tenants in those homes, which are owned by the church, have been getting eviction notices in the past few weeks.

The church owns eight homes on Haddow and one on Douglas and has been renting them, said Claire Bechard, director of communications and congregational life for Orchard Evangelical Free Church.

"According to what was in their leases, they were aware that this was a possibility when they signed," she said.

About 1,350 people attend Sunday services at Orchard Evangelical each week, with about 200 of those cars parking on neighborhood streets. The parking lot expansion will alleviate that street parking, in an effort, Bechard said, to be better neighbors.

Bechard said the tenants were notified in the past two weeks and although the lease said they would have 60 days to vacate, they were given more than that allotted time to move.

A lot of the concern, however, is coming from other homeowners in the vicinity whose homes will abut a parking lot if this project is approved.

"We hope the board will reject any plans and requests for permits from the church," said Mark Fuller, who lives nearby.

"Please help us maintain the character of our neighborhood before it is destroyed and forever changed for the worse."

Fuller said he and his neighbors are coming to the board now because people are already being asked to move out, although no plans have been submitted yet.

"Our town is at its best when we live up to our motto 'the city of good neighbors,'" said resident Adam Eichorn. "I would much rather have friends and neighbors than be surrounded by more concrete."

Other people said they are concerned about having a block of vacant homes in the neighborhood, as the project moves through village channels.

The church is expected to submit its formal plans to the village in April for what is estimated to be a $1 million project.

Village Manager Bill Dixon said Orchard Evangelical Church will have to come to the village for approval to tear down the homes and other possible variances, but that they have not heard from the church yet.

Officials said they will reach out to Orchard Church to make sure they are aware of all the requirements.

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