Lake County Housing Authority appealing homeless plan decision

  • Documents have been filed in Lake County circuit court seeking to overturn a decision blocking a plan for homeless people with mental illness to live in Midlothian Manor near Lake Zurich. The Lake County Housing Authority owns the now-vacant 14-unit building.

    Documents have been filed in Lake County circuit court seeking to overturn a decision blocking a plan for homeless people with mental illness to live in Midlothian Manor near Lake Zurich. The Lake County Housing Authority owns the now-vacant 14-unit building. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 7/14/2015 5:23 PM

Lake County Housing Authority is seeking to overturn a decision blocking the agency from having chronically homeless people with mental illness living in a building it owns near Lake Zurich.

Documents filed last week in Lake County circuit court allege the housing authority has been wrongly denied an ability to use the vacant 14-unit Midlothian Manor at Oakwood Road and Lakewood Lane in unincorporated Ela Township. A judge will preside over the administrative review requested by the housing authority and decide whether to overturn or affirm a Lake County zoning board of appeals decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On May 26, the zoning board reversed an occupancy permit that would have allowed the homeless to live in Midlothian Manor. PADS Lake County, a homeless agency, would have rented the building from the housing authority.

Initially, the PADS plan was classified as a permitted government use through a routine office procedure with Lake County's department of planning, building and development. The department granted the occupancy permit early this year.

But Residents for an Engaged Community, a Lake Zurich-area opposition group, filed an objection to the permit that would have allowed PADS to use the building. The move triggered a zoning board of appeals public hearing and led to the eventual reversal of the permit because officials determined it was not an authorized government use.

Court documents filed July 8 by housing authority attorney Robert Masini contend the zoning board of appeals' 5-1 vote to reverse the occupancy permit was "contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence" that the homeless plan is a proper government use for Midlothian Manor. In addition, the documents state the housing authority is supposed to provide "decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing to disadvantaged people in Lake County."

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Masini said it could take six to eight months for a decision in the administrative review process.

"The nice thing about an administrative review case like this is it's the court's call," Masini said Tuesday.

Daniel Shapiro, a lawyer who represented Residents for an Engaged Community during the three-session zoning board public hearing in May, could not be reached for comment.

Opponents cited concerns about the effect the Midlothian Manor 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 the clients in PADS' Safe Haven program serving homeless people living with mental illness.

Under the proposal, PADS would move the program from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center in North Chicago to 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.

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