Neighbors turn out to oppose townhouses near Prospect Heights park
A group of neighbors voiced strong opposition Wednesday to a proposal for 69 townhouses on a nearly 10-acre site in Prospect Heights that would include the former Jolly Fun House Academy and a possible land swap with the Prospect Heights Park District at John Muir Park.
City council members gave their first hearing to the Lexington Homes proposal Wednesday night. But members of the plan/zoning board had previously recommended every aspect of it except a variance that would reduce the required separation of four of the 12 buildings from the northern property line from 50 feet to 25 feet.
Lexington Homes is still pursuing that request as well for 1001 Oak Ave., showing aldermen a plan to landscape its side of the fence to ensure privacy for residents on both sides.
The city council could grant preliminary approval at its next meeting on Oct. 12.
But more than 15 neighboring residents and an attorney working with some of them argued that such an approval would be against their wishes.
"No one has been able to explain any real benefit to this project," resident Hilary Feldman said. "As a nature lover, I always hate to see open land go."
Neighbor Steve Drake was even more to the point.
"You work for us, and we soundly reject it," he told the council of the proposal. "If you approve it, we have no choice but to take legal action."
The former Jolly Fun House Academy site is 5.23 acres, but the developer's proposed land swap with the park district would expand it to 9.72 acres, of which 64.2% would remain dedicated open space.
Park District Executive Director Christina Ferraro said the board of commissioners has not yet discussed a land swap in great detail but is observing the city's response to the proposal.
Lexington Homes has an alternate plan, which isn't being actively pursued, for only 61 units on the former Jolly Fun House Academy site alone.
Prospect Heights Director of Building & Development Dan Peterson clarified that the proposal currently before the council is for preliminary approval only.
Final approval, if it became a possibility, would be months away after Lexington Homes completed further details and the potential land swap with the park district.