Naperville council approves downtown fertility clinic
The proposed building facade and the facility's name will change, but the Naperville Fertility Clinic will expand in downtown Naperville.
City council members approved, by a vote of 5-2, Dr. Randy Morris' proposal to build a fertility clinic at the northwest corner of Benton Avenue and Washington Street to provide services that include insemination, in-vitro fertilization and unblocking fallopian tubes.
Morris, a licensed physician specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, currently operates a small office in Naperville. His main offices are in Chicago. Morris said he would like to consolidate his practice into one facility in Naperville, where his family and a number of his patients live.
More than 50 members of the public, including many of Morris' patients, spoke in favor of and against the plan for reasons ranging from moral and ethical objections to the number of parking spaces.
Morris was issued a state certificate of need for the facility in October, but he now needs city approval for parking and sign variances. Naperville's planning and zoning commission unanimously approved the plan last month and the city's planning staff told councilmen they also recommend approval.
"I don't know that we should read too much into it. When it came down to it, the city council and mayor were voting on the variances and the ordinances," said Morris, who agreed to use brick on the entire building and change the name to the Naperville Family-Building Center in exchange for support. "They did not include the emotional and religious issues in their decision and I think they did their jobs and they did their jobs well."
Councilman Kenn Miller called the two-week debate the "biggest and worst" he's seen in his seven years on the council and said he believes it divided the city.
"I know this is an emotional issue and we should not take this issue as a social issue. This is a zoning issue," Miller said. "I may have certain beliefs, but I have to disregard that. I have to look at it as a zoning issue."
Councilman Steve Chirico said he believes the building will add to downtown.
"I think this building is beautiful and the variances are fairly minimal," he said. "All in all I think it's a good project."
The two dissenting council members, Robert Fieseler and Paul Hinterlong, said Morris' proposal "barely" meets the zoning requirements and recommendations of the city's 2030 plan for downtown development. Specifically he questioned whether a proposed bicycle rack, shaped like a bicycle, meets the public art requirement for the planned unit development (PUD). He also fears that threatened protests at the site could cause safety concerns for traffic and pedestrians.
"I do think this factor also comes into play when we talk about public expression," he said. "If there are people expressing their opinions, it's certainly not going to help the traffic situation,"