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Proposed senior living facility could finally fill need in Downers Grove, but neighbors uneasy

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 10:05 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:59 p.m. CDT

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DOWNERS GROVE – Developers proposing a supportive-living facility at 4200 Lacey Road took input from neighbors concerned with the possible traffic congestion and aesthetic impact of the project at an informal meeting Thursday night.

Delta Development of Downers Grove would like to build the 120-unit facility for seniors on a wooded lot on Lacey Road facing residential streets. The project has not yet gone to the village's planning commission, where it would have to be approved before going up for a vote at the Downers Grove Village Council.

Much of the discussion from residents focused not on the proposed project, but on years of frustration with Donegal Excavating, a construction company that sits next door to the wooded lot.

The construction company operates on a residential zoned lot, and many neighbors say large diesel trucks and other construction equipment rumbles in and out of the property late at night, despite their complaints to the village.

Some neighbors said combining vehicles from Delta's facility with Donegal's trucks could make a bad situation worse.

"I'm for (the development) … but I don't want to see more cars, more traffic, especially with Donegal," said Lacey Road resident Nick Janowitz.

Delta's attorney Michael Fiandaca said the facility could push Donegal to operate in a more neighborhood-friendly manner, because the facility's state license comes with quality-of-life standards that could give it leverage to pressure the construction company.

While taking suggestions from the group of about 25 in attendance at the meeting, Fiandaca said rules governing when service trucks and other traffic would be allowed to enter or leave the facility could be written into the project's eventual agreement with the village.

But after their experience with Donegal, many residents expressed skepticism that the village would provide suitable enforcement.

The facility would employ between 40 and 50 people and house up to 180 residents, Fiandaca said. He described a building with three stories facing Lacey Road, placed behind a tall treeline.

The back of the building would have four stories, but built at a lower ground level, so the top story would appear to be the same height as the front from the street. A parking lot for about 50 cars would be in the rear, and the property would include a water detention pond.

The builders would also likely re-surface and widen Lacey Road.

If discussions with the village go as Delta hopes, Fiandaca said the project could be built by late 2014.

The proposed facility has secured participation in a state program where residents pay their own rent, but Medicaid would kick in to provide rent for seniors who exhaust their savings.

"It's a successful program," said Deana Wilson, director of housing operations for the company that would run the facility, Presence Life Connections. "It's very much filling a need that no other product in assisted living is filling."

Living facilitates have to compete to participate in the program, and the state chooses who gets the license based on the need in the community. Fiandaca said there are only three other facilities in the county with the license.

Some older neighbors at the meeting showed interest in the facility as a possible future residence.

"As a senior citizen, I think it's something totally needed in the community," Alice Dorman said.

Lacey Road is Delta's fourth attempt at building the facility in Downers Grove.

A proposal for 63rd Street was denied by the village because it did not meet the five-acre lot size requirement; an attempt downtown was denied by commissioners who said it did not meet the goals for that area of town; and a second attempt on 63rd Street fizzled after opposition from neighbors.

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