Public comment about Arlington Heights shelter care home's relocation goes late into the night

Arlington Hts. residents lobby village board

  • Arlington Heights residents late Monday debated the pros and cons of a proposal to relocate a shelter care home for young men to this duplex at 207-209 E. Valley Lane.

    Arlington Heights residents late Monday debated the pros and cons of a proposal to relocate a shelter care home for young men to this duplex at 207-209 E. Valley Lane. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted11/2/2021 5:00 AM

Views both pro and con about a controversial proposal to relocate a shelter care home from Golf Road to a residential neighborhood in Arlington Heights continued late into the night at a village board meeting Monday.

And as public comment went on, board members hadn't yet taken a vote as of 11:30 p.m.

 

The hourslong meeting, held virtually, was the latest public forum about Shelter Inc.'s zoning request to operate its Transitional Living Program for males ages 17 to 21 inside a duplex at 207-209 E. Valley Lane.

Anticipating a large crowd and concerns over social distancing amid the pandemic, village officials decided to hold the meeting over Zoom, but Mayor Tom Hayes said all would be given a "full and fair" opportunity to speak.

That included dozens of comments from residents in the Ivy Hill neighborhood, who largely opposed the move over concerns for safety and property values, and others who said Shelter Inc. should be granted zoning relief because it serves a valuable role in the community.

The Arlington Heights-based nonprofit child welfare agency is seeking to move its program for young men to the duplex -- two houses east of Arlington Heights Road and just north of the Northpoint Shopping Center -- because the agency's current home at 397 W. Golf Road is being sold by the property owner.

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The organization has proposed housing a dozen residents at the new location -- double the number who currently live on Golf Road -- but a proposed condition of approval being considered by the village board would be to limit capacity to six.

In their review of the zoning application, the village's community development department staff said it could not support the request, citing the potential for police calls to the home to double and the lack of nearby public transportation options.

Over the last decade, there have been 553 calls for police service to the Golf Road home; 65% of those have been for curfew violations, 21% for well-being checks, and 13% for criminal incidents and public complaints.

Beth Arnold, a nearby resident, said Shelter's move would "irrevocably alter" her neighborhood, and open up the door to similar zoning requests at residential duplexes. "Why Valley Lane?" Arnold said. "There are so many other appropriate options."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But Sandralyn Bourseau said welcoming the group would speak to "who we are as a community."

"I think it's an opportunity for us to stand up for these people who need our help and need our support," Bourseau said.

Opponents submitted a petition of 450 signatures from those opposed to the relocation, while Shelter Inc. officials cited a self-funded survey by Inverness-based pollster Cor Strategies that found 54% of Arlington Heights residents support the move.

After an hour of public testimony, Village Clerk Becky Hume read into the record more than 50 additional emails received at village hall about the project.

The meeting Monday night was the first time Shelter Inc.'s proposal was before the nine-member village board, but it followed five other village meetings on the topic. The plan commission held its review Oct. 20 and Sept. 22, after an August neighborhood meeting and initial review by the commission's conceptual plan review committee in May and June.

After the plan commission deadlocked on a 4-4 advisory vote in September, the panel -- with all members present in October -- voted 5-4 to recommend approval of the special use permit and two zoning variations.

But it's ultimately up to the elected mayor and village trustees to decide.

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