Developer seeks injunction to build controversial Wheeling apartments
The developers behind a proposed Wheeling apartment building for people with mental and physical disabilities are asking a federal court to allow them to proceed immediately, despite the project's rejection by village officials.
A hearing is set for Thursday morning on the Daveri Development Group's motion for a preliminary injunction that would require the village to approve the site plan for the PhilHaven housing development.
"Unless injunctive relief is granted and Wheeling timely issues the necessary approval, plaintiffs are at risk that Daveri will be unable to acquire the property upon which PhilHaven is to be constructed and to keep the funding necessary for the project, which will result in the deprivation of housing desperately needed by the mentally and physically disabled persons in the Wheeling area," the motion reads.
In order to grant a preliminary injunction, a court must rule that Daveri would have a strong chance of succeeding if the litigation went to trial and not acting right away would cause the developer irreparable harm. Judge John Z. Lee is scheduled take up the case at 10 a.m. Thursday, though it is not certain that he will rule immediately.
According to the motion, filed in U.S. District Court, Daveri needs to send a project assessment to the Illinois Housing Development Authority by Dec. 7 and complete its application by March 15, 2013.
Other plaintiffs in the case include the North/Northwest Suburban Task Force for Individuals with Mental Disabilities and a pair of would-be PhilHaven residents.
Daveri sued Wheeling in September, claiming the village violated the federal Fair Housing and Americans with Disabilities acts by denying the PhilHaven project.
"The Wheeling board did not approve the PhilHaven project because, if it is built, it will afford housing to disabled persons," the suit claims.
The board twice voted down PhilHaven, which calls for a 50-unit building at 2418-2422 W. Hintz Road. The apartments would provide housing and some services to low-income residents who have mental or physical disabilities but can live mostly independently.
The $13 million proposal met strong opposition from neighboring homeowners, who cited concerns ranging from increased traffic and flooding to its impact on property values and safety of other residents.
The suit states Wheeling trustees denied the plan despite the plan commission's recommendation in favor of it and their approval of a similar development at the site that ultimately fell through.
"The board offered no reason for its action, but the comments of certain of the board's members, as well as those of some citizens who spoke at the meeting, confirm that the board's refusal was based on a 'not-in-my-back-yard' attitude toward housing for the disabled," Daveri's motion alleges.
Last month, Wheeling filed a motion to dismiss portions of Daveri's initial complaint, but a hearing date on that issue has yet to be set.
This is the second federal lawsuit Daveri has filed against a Northwest suburb that rejected one of its proposals. In June, a similar lawsuit against Arlington Heights over its denial of the Boeger Place proposal was dismissed by a federal judge who ruled the village was within its right to deny a project. But unlike the Arlington Heights project, Daveri did not seek any zoning changes or variances for PhilHaven.
Daveri also is building Myers Place, a 39-unit apartment building for disabled residents, at the corner of Dempster Street and Busse Road in Mount Prospect.
Lawyers for Wheeling and Daveri were not immediately available for comment Wednesday. The village previously declined to comment on initial lawsuit.