Lake County Housing Authority to appeal Midlothian Manor denial
Lake County Housing Authority board members have authorized filing a lawsuit to appeal a decision preventing it from leasing a building near Lake Zurich to a homeless organization.
Housing authority Executive Director David Northern said the May 26 decision by the Lake County zoning board of appeals, which reversed an occupancy permit granted for the Midlothian Manor plan, unfairly denies the agency use of a building it owns. The housing authority has until July 9 to file a complaint in Lake County circuit court seeking review of the panel's decision.
"At the end of the day," Northern said Tuesday, "we have a resource worth over $700,000 that we can't even utilize."
PADS Lake County would have rented the 14-unit Midlothian Manor building from the housing authority. PADS had intended to move chronically homeless people with mental illness into the structure at Midlothian Road and Lakewood Lane in unincorporated Ela Township.
Initially, an administrative decision classified the PADS plan as a permitted government use for Midlothian Manor. However, Residents for an Engaged Community, an opposition group, filed an objection to the occupancy permit that would have allowed PADS to use the building. The move triggered the zoning board of appeals public hearing and led to the eventual reversal of the occupancy permit because it was not an authorized use.
Housing authority board members voted at a June 18 meeting to authorize going to circuit court to appeal the decision.
Attorney Daniel Shapiro, who represented Residents for an Engaged Community, said group members were made aware the zoning board of appeals vote may not be the final word on the issue.
"Is this (lawsuit) something we anticipated could happen? Sure," Shapiro said.
Opponents cited concerns about the effect the proposal could have on the neighborhood, including the potential for declining property values and crime. Proponents said Midlothian Manor would provide stable, affordable housing for clients in PADS' Safe Haven program.
Under the proposal, PADS would move the program from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center in North Chicago to the vacant Midlothian Manor, a former seniors facility on Lake Zurich's northern edge.
Similar to the Lovell operation, a PADS employee would be at Midlothian Manor 24 hours a day, with help from a full-time Safe Haven program manager and clinical social worker. An advanced practice nurse also would serve the residents living in dormitory-style rooms.
Under the most recent short-term lease extension, Safe Haven had until Tuesday to move out of Lovell.
However, PADS Executive Director Joel Williams said he's "very appreciative" that federal officials did not force out the Safe Haven clients and are allowing the homeless agency to remain there on a day-to-day basis until other temporary arrangements are solidified.
"We're looking at a bunch of options," Williams said.