Residents want to stay judge's decision in fight over Lake Zurich-area homeless proposal
At least 13 Lake Zurich-area residents are continuing their fight against a proposal to allow chronically homeless people with mental illness to live in a publicly owned building in their neighborhood.
Daniel Shapiro, a Northbrook attorney representing the residents, filed documents in Lake County circuit court Dec. 2 seeking a stay of a judge's decision that revived the homeless plan for Midlothian Manor, a 14-unit former seniors facility in Ela Township. A hearing before Circuit Judge Thomas Schippers is set for Jan. 26.
Shapiro wrote that Schippers should set aside his decision, pending an appeal by the 13 residents listed in the court file, because the PADS Lake County homeless agency could immediately start operating at Midlothian Manor as planned. He said the building has been vacant since at least 2010 and should remain that way if the case goes to an appellate court.
PADS Executive Director Joel Williams said Tuesday that the agency would have to clear several logistical hurdles and could not quickly move into the facility. He added that PADS does not intend to force its way in over great opposition.
"Now that we have the legal right to have the program there, we look forward to the opportunity to engage the neighborhood and broader community about how this truly can fit properly and start to correct some of the misconceptions about the people we serve," Williams said.
Schippers presided over the lawsuit filed by Midlothian Manor's owner, the Lake County Housing Authority, in July 2015. The agency went to court after the Lake County zoning board of appeals reversed approval of an occupancy permit that would have allowed the homeless to live in Midlothian Manor through a lease with PADS.
Last month, Schippers agreed with the housing authority and overturned the zoning board's occupancy permit reversal. The zoning panel became involved in early 2015 after nearby residents formally objected to the permit issuance in part because they contended it was not an allowed government use under county zoning regulations.
Court documents show the publicly funded housing authority contended that the loss of the occupancy permit unfairly denied the agency use of a building it owns for government purposes. The structure is at Midlothian Road and Lakewood Lane on Lake Zurich's northern edge.
"The agreement by the (housing) authority to lease the facility to PADS to enable PADS to provide housing to the chronically homeless is clearly within the scope of the directives set forth in the (county zoning) statute," Schippers said in court.
Under the plan that surfaced in late 2014, PADS would run the Safe Haven program at Midlothian Manor with involvement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Safe Haven caters to the chronically homeless with mental illness.
Opponents cited concerns about the effect the proposal could have on the neighborhood, including the potential for declining property values and crime.