ELMHURST – Elmhurst Extended Care Center should get a six-month extension for its conditional use permit, the Elmhurst City Council decided in a 12-2 vote at its Oct. 17 meeting.
As a result of the decision, the city has directed its attorney to prepare the necessary documents for the council to approve the request made by the nursing home facility, which is at 200 E. Lake St. in Elmhurst.
The Development, Planning and Zoning Committee had submitted a report to the City Council, stating the applicant is in the process of obtaining financing, beginning the approval process through the Illinois Department of Public Health and continuing to work on the documents required for a building permit.
The care center indicated at the committee meeting Oct. 10 that it intended to apply for the permit in five months but could not guarantee it would not ask for a second extension because of the nature of the financing and Illinois Department of Public Health approvals, the report stated.
The City Council granted a conditional use permit to the facility on April 2 to allow it to expand onto 193 and 197 E. Fremont Ave. to give its residents more spacious accommodations. The land use case began in 2016 and has seen much contention as neighboring residents, including Fremont Avenue resident John "Jay" McNichols, have voiced concerns over changes to property values and the feel of their neighborhood.
McNichols spoke during public comment at the Oct. 17 meeting in opposition of extending the conditional use permit. He said the section of the city code regarding revocation of conditional use permits in the case of insufficient progress applies to the center.
"In any case where a conditional use has not been established (substantially under way) within six months from the date of granting thereof, then, without further action by the City Council, the conditional use or authorization thereof shall be null and void," the code states.
McNichols questioned whether the center has the financial means to carry out the project since it has not yet completed many requirements, including code analyses and architectural drawings. He said the commission should examine the center's applications to the Illinois Department of Public Health and for financial assistance.
"Even if you chose to extend it, I would think that a rigorous examination of the documents and a second application process would be fair to the residents of the city of Elmhurst and help hold the city accountable to its own municipal code," McNichols said.
Alderman Michael Bram agreed the applicant had not met the requirement of being substantially underway to warrant the extension and the request was not made within the six-month timeframe.
City attorney Don Storino said when an application for an extension is submitted, city staff are not "harsh" and do not require the City Council to approve the extension within the six-month period.
Bram and alderwoman Dannee Polomsky voted against the extension.
Alderman Michael Honquest, chairman of the committee, said after the meeting that the care center expansion is a "large, complex project" that needs a longer time period to be accomplished, and the care center had not gone ahead with much of the planning according to a typical project schedule because of the controversy surrounding the acquisition of the permit.
Alderwoman Noel Talluto, a member of the committee, said the city code's requirements often have gray areas.
If the city codes were very strict, "a robot could run the city," Talluto said.