Wheeling board takes up Philhaven tonight
The Wheeling village board tonight will consider a proposal for Philhaven, a 50-unit building for low-income residents with mental or physical disabilities, which was the subject of several full and controversial meetings before being approved by the plan commission.
The village board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Wheeling Village Hall, 2 Community Boulevard.
Officials said they are expecting a crowded meeting. Philhaven is proposed for 2418 W. Hintz Road in Wheeling by the Daveri Development Group LLC in conjunction with the Kenneth Young Center and Alexian Brothers Health System.
The project was approved unanimously by plan commission in April after nearly 10 hours of hearings and questions from officials and the public.
"We're expecting a large number of people to come out both for and against the project and hopefully the decision will be based on the request itself," said Village Manager Jon Sfondilis said.
Philhaven has generated controversy in the community -- both because of the residents who would occupy the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and also because of concerns about parking and flooding.
Case managers will visit the site to help residents with vocational, wellness, socialization and other needs, backers said, but there will not be a 24/7 licensed supervisor on-site.
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 is also behind a similar project called Boeger Place that was rejected in Arlington Heights and is now the subject of a lawsuit.
A similar 39-unit building was approved in Mount Prospect, and construction began earlier this month.
Wheeling officials said the lawsuit against Arlington Heights will not affect their decision about Philhaven.
"We're aware of it and have read about it," Sfondilis said. "It's the same developer, but this is a different project at a different location in a different town. They (the trustees) are looking at it objectively."
Developers said they are optimistic going into the Wheeling village board meeting and looking forward to presenting the project.
"The plan commission did a thoughtful and thorough review. We had excellent dialogue and have only improved the project from that experience," said Jessica Berzac, vice president of acquisitions and development for Daveri Development.
Berzac said she continues to get letters of support from residents and local politicians, and is hopeful the village board will approve the project, though trustees said their minds are not made up yet.
"I promised early on that I will listen to both sides of the story before I make any sort of judgment," said Trustee Ray Lang, who added that he has been hearing from many residents with opinions both for and against the project.
Sfondilis said the village has received almost 100 letters about the project, and that while many are in support, the bulk lean against the plan.
"I'm not convinced this is a good development for that area," said Trustee Dean Argiris. Argiris said he has concerns about the location, but is not opposed to having the project in Wheeling.
"It's not about the people that are going to be living there," he said.
Argiris said he will also have questions for developers about the text amendment and variances they requested and that were approved by the plan commission.