Lake Zurich-area homeless plan has new life

  • A plan to place chronically homeless people with mental illness in the vacant Midlothian Manor near Lake Zurich has been revived as a result of a judge's ruling in a lawsuit.

    A plan to place chronically homeless people with mental illness in the vacant Midlothian Manor near Lake Zurich has been revived as a result of a judge's ruling in a lawsuit. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 11/9/2016 5:32 PM

A plan to place chronically homeless people with mental illness in a building near Lake Zurich has been revived as a result of a judge's ruling in a lawsuit.

Lake County Housing Authority officials went to court in July 2015 over a decision by the county's zoning board of appeals to reverse approval of an occupancy permit to allow the homeless to live in Midlothian Manor, a vacant 14-unit former seniors facility in Ela Township. The county panel became involved after nearby residents formally objected to the permit issuance.

 

In an order Tuesday, Lake County Judge Thomas Schippers agreed with the housing authority and overturned the zoning board's occupancy permit reversal. Attorneys for the zoning board and objecting Lake Zurich-area residents have until Dec. 8 to file motions for the judge to reconsider his decision, and also may bring the case to an Illinois appeals court.

Court documents show the housing authority contended the loss of the permit for the Midlothian Manor plan unfairly denied the agency use of a building it owns for government use. The structure is at Midlothian Road and Lakewood Lane on Lake Zurich's northern edge.

Housing Authority Executive Director David Northern said his agency would want to meet with opponents before securing another permit.

"What is most important is that we are now able to place into service our underutilized asset, housing some of the most vulnerable clients in our county." Northern said Wednesday.

Gregory Koeppen, vice chairman of the Lake County zoning board of appeals, said members expect to receive an explanation about the judge's ruling from administrators in the planning, building and development department.

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"We will be meeting with our legal counsel to review the ruling of Judge Schippers and explore our options," Koeppen said. "While it's unfortunate Judge Schippers did not rule in our favor, we need to be respectful stewards of taxpayer dollars as large amounts of money have already been spent on this case."

Under the plan that surfaced in late 2014, the PADS Lake County homeless agency would run the program at Midlothian Manor with involvement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It would cater to the chronically homeless with mental illness.

A PADS employee would be on duty 24 hours a day, with help from a full-time program manager and clinical social worker. An advanced practice nurse also would serve those living in dormitory-style rooms.

Residents for an Engaged Community, the opposition group, filed the objection to the occupancy permit. The move in early 2015 triggered the zoning board public hearing and led to the eventual permit reversal because it was not an authorized use.

Daniel Shapiro, an attorney who represents the opposition group, could not be reached for comment.

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.

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