Palatine commission split on revised plans for affordable apartments

The Palatine plan commission was split this week on a developer's plan to build affordable apartments in town, so it made no recommendation to the village council, which is expected to examine the issue in January.

Northpointe Development, based in Wisconsin, wants to build a two-story, 40-unit building on 2.5 acres at 874-920 N. Quentin Road, on the southwest corner with Poplar Street. The building would have 19 one-bedrooms, 14 two-bedrooms and seven three-bedroom units.

This is Northpointe's second attempt at getting approval from the village. The developer withdrew its original plan for a three-story building with 58 units, which got the thumbs-down from the commission and faced opposition from nearby residents.

On Tuesday night, three commissioners — Stephen Fedota, Eric Friedman and panel Chairman Dennis Dwyer — voted in favor of recommending the plan. Three others — Rodney Bettenhausen, Patrick Noonan and Teri Williams — voted against. Three commissioners were absent.

The project was allocated $15 million in low-income housing tax credits by the Illinois Housing Development Authority in a very competitive process, said Jake Victor, vice president of development for Northpointe.

The neighborhood consists of single-family homes and townhouses, with an apartment complex farther north.

The developer heard “loud and clear” the concerns about the initial plan — mainly density and traffic — and worked on “something really beautiful and nice for the community that first really well on that site,” Victor said.

For example, an entrance at Poplar Street — a throughway used by residents nearby — was eliminated, so the site would have a single Quentin Road entrance.

Victor said the plan could be modified further by lowering the number of units to 36 and making room for an additional entrance off Quentin Road.

The commission received about a dozen emails and two letters in favor of the proposal, Dwyer said. Three people spoke against it and four people spoke in favor at Tuesday's meeting.

The modified plan “is still not right for the neighborhood,” resident Julie Jesso said, citing concerns about cars, noise and light pollution. A petition against it collected 360 signatures, she said.

“We don't want a vacant lot forever, but we don't believe this proposal is the only viable option,” she said.

The village staff also was not in favor of the plan. Concerns include the single entrance and the lack of a deceleration lane on Quentin Road, which is under Cook County's jurisdiction, Planning and Zoning Director Ben Vyverberg said.

Resident Kathy Cortez said there is bias and lack of understanding about affordable housing, which she said should not be relegated to the fringes of the village with little access to public transportation and amenities.

“There is a housing crisis in our country, in our state and in our village, where people cannot afford decent, safe housing,” she said.

“My call out to you,” she said to the commission, “is to take action that will help you to not lean on our antiquated, exclusionary zoning practices that disallow the possibility to create affordable housing within our village.”

Resident Marcus Orofino said that was not the issue.

“We are not saying 'no' to the affordable housing,” he said. “We are just saying 'no' in the given location given the dynamics that have been highlighted by our own zoning and planning department.”

The village council is tentatively scheduled to discuss the plan Jan. 17.

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