Northbrook clears Providence Farm for additional residents at Lee Road facility

The Northbrook Village Board granted Providence Farm a special permit to operate a transitional service facility for up to 13 people in a single-family residential district.

With one member absent, the board voted 6-1 approving the permit. Village President Kathryn Ciesla voted in a show of support.

Since September 2022, Providence Farm legally has been housing eight people in the 6,800-square-foot, 2-story home in the 400 block of Lee Road. The special permit allows for 12 residents plus a staff member.

The village board followed a unanimous plan commission recommendation to approve the permit.

For more than five years Providence Farm has operated a transition facility at 1620 Sunset Ridge Road for men 18 to 30 years old seeking recovery primarily from alcohol and substance abuse. That project's approval came after two years of debate.

About 110 families have been served at Sunset Ridge, according to Providence Farm owner Stephanie Zwilling, a therapist and social worker. The residents, who must have completed at least 30 days of treatment prior to admittance, usually stay between 3 and 6 months.

Residents must agree to observe 70 rules and house policies, and the special permit was granted under 13 conditions set by the village, including compliance with the Illinois Accessibility Code and the village's Climate Action Plan.

Zwilling must renew the permit in five years.

Northbrook Police Chief Christopher Kennedy previously said there had been no violations at 1620 Sunset Ridge Road, though there had been one attempted suicide.

Michaela Kohlstedt, Northbrook's director of development and planning services, said the village has not received any complaints about the Lee Road location.

Those opposed to the facility did so mainly on the grounds of traffic and cars parked at the site.

Several trustees said they had visited the Lee Road facility at different days and times and noticed no more than five cars at any one time. Trustee Heather Ross said more cars may park outside homes in her neighborhood than she saw "over multiple visits" to Providence Farm.

The consensus, even of those against the expansion, favored the group's mission, but some trustees were concerned how the facility would impact the neighborhood.

Trustee Muriel Collison, who cast the sole "no" vote, said she loves what Providence Farms does.

"There isn't something like this in any of our neighborhoods," Collison said. "And I do feel a strong obligation to protect the character of the single-family neighborhood. I'm talking about the look and the feel of the neighborhood."

The home includes a circular driveway on Lee Road and a drive off Fairway Lane that includes a three-car garage. Providence Farm will construct a parking pad for two additional vehicles. The permit allows a maximum of eight cars.

Trustee Bob Israel amended the permit to mandate one of the circular drive's two lanes to remain clear at all times, and clear entry and exit from the front doors.

"Getting car parking such that it's not an imposition on your neighbors is the issue," Israel said.

  Providence Farm will be using this house on Lee Road in Northbrook as a transitional service facility for up to 13 people. Joe Lewnard/
  Since September 2022, Providence Farm has been housing eight people in an 6,800-square-foot, 2-story home in the 400 block of Lee Road. A special permit authorized by Northbrook officials allows for 12 residents plus a staff member to be housed there. Joe Lewnard/
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