ELMHURST – Elmhurst Extended Care Center, 200 E. Lake St., Elmhurst, will receive a six-month extension on the conditional use permit allowing its expansion onto Fremont Avenue, the Elmhurst City Council decided in a 12-2 vote at its Nov. 5 meeting.
The nursing home facility is in the process of securing Housing and Urban Development financing for the project and also needs to secure project approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health, according to the ordinance the council passed.
The care center indicated at a Development, Planning and Zoning Committee meeting Oct. 9 that it intended to apply for a building permit in five months but could not guarantee it would not ask for a second extension because of the nature of the financing and Department of Public Health approvals, a committee 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 it has seen much contention as neighboring residents have voiced concerns over changes to property values and the feel of their neighborhood.
At the council's Oct. 15 meeting, at which aldermen approved a report directing the city attorney to prepare documentation to approve the extension, Fremont Avenue resident John "Jay" McNichols said during public comment he did not believe the extension approval would be in accordance with city code regarding extensions of condtional use permits.
"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," city code states.
City attorney Don Storino said when an application for an extension is submitted, city staff is not "harsh" and does not require the council to approve the extension within the six-month period.
Before the vote at the Nov. 5 meeting, alderman Michael Bram said approving the extension wouldn't match city code on granting extensions on conditonal use permits. He said there hasn't been "substantial progress" on the project, and the letter from the facility requesting the extension came in after the six-month time period.
Bram added even though the council has approved extensions in the past and did not enforce the ordinance in past instances, he does not believe the city should continue to do that with this case.
"That doesn't mean that this one [extension case] should qualify. We need to right the ship," he said.
Bram and alderwoman Dannee Polomsky voted against the ordinance allowing the extension.
Alderman Michael Honquest, chairman of the committee, said after the Oct. 15 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.