Hearing delayed on Midlothian Manor homeless proposal near Lake Zurich

Supporters and opponents of a plan to move chronically homeless people with mental illness from North Chicago to a residential area on Lake Zurich's border will have to wait until mid-May to speak out at a public hearing.

Originally scheduled for Thursday, April 9, the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on Midlothian Manor has been postponed to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12.

The administrative appeal hearing also has been shifted from Hawthorn Woods village hall to Lake Zurich High School.

Brittany Sloan of Lake County's department of planning, building and development said Wednesday that a failure to publish a state-mandated legal notice in a local newspaper within 15 days of the April 9 hearing date led to the postponement.

At issue is whether the Lake County Housing Authority, which owns Midlothian Manor, should have been granted an occupancy permit for a "government use" through a county administrative process.

PADS Lake County clients were expected by early this year to occupy the 14-unit structure in an unincorporated area at Midlothian Road and Lakewood Lane.

Joel Williams, the PADS homeless agency's executive director, said he's disappointed at the delay.

"This is very stressful and disconcerting for our residents, as they keep seeing that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seemingly move farther and farther away," Williams said.

Next month's hearing is a result of action taken in February by Residents for an Engaged Community, an opposition group that includes members from Lake Zurich and Hawthorn Woods. The group filed an objection to the permit that would allow PADS to use Midlothian Manor.

Residents for an Engaged Community attorney Daniel Shapiro declined to comment Wednesday.

PADS officials want to move their Safe Haven program from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center in North Chicago to the residential neighborhood in Ela Township, near Lake Zurich's north side.

Opponents have cited concerns such as the potential for declining property values and crime.

Midlothian Manor would house 14 residents screened by PADS in advance, with employees present 24 hours a day and resources such as a licensed clinical social worker and an advanced practice nurse. Safe Haven serves the chronically homeless with mental illness.

Safe Haven clients would rent their units from PADS by paying a portion of their income, from government assistance or a job. The building previously was operated by the housing authority as a senior facility.

Housing authority Executive Director/CEO David Northern said he's concerned about the PADS clients who were supposed to move into Midlothian Manor having to endure further delay.

"If there was a level of disappointment," Northern said, "that level would be too high right now."

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