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Tinley Park planners delay vote on controversial apartment project
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mike Nolan
reprinted from the Chicago Tribune

Tinley Park planners have delayed voting on a proposed controversial apartment project while they await a study on the development`s likelihood of success.

During a public hearing Thursday, which the Plan Commission agreed to continue to its next meeting on June 15, residents of the Brookside Glen subdivision, where the 144-unit development would be built, said it doesn`t fit in with the character of their neighborhood and asked planners to reject it.

The Residence at Brookside Glen would be developed by Karli Mayher and DJM-Vandenberg Brookside Joint Venture. It would be southwest of 191st Street and 80th Avenue, adjacent to town homes in Brookside Glen.

In 2000, plans were approved for a condominium development consisting of 144 units spread among nine buildings. The current developers need a special use permit because of variances from what was first proposed, but never built due to changes in the layout.

The development would have two buildings, each with 72 units, and a clubhouse between them that would include an indoor fitness center and outdoor pool. Other amenities would include a dog park at the south end of the 7.6-acre property and outdoor grilling areas, a disc golf course and an arboretum at the north end of the property.

There would be one- and two-bedroom units, and half of the parking spaces for the buildings would be underneath the structures with rooftop terraces on those indoor garages.

Magnuson Lane, running west from 80th Avenue, curves north to Greenway Boulevard, which the development would face, and Greenway would be extended north to 191st, according to plans.

Michael Stocklose, vice president of a homeowners association representing town home owners, described the buildings as “two massive hotels,” while another Brookside resident called them “two big barrack-looking, dorm-looking buildings.”

Commissioner Ken Shaw said the developers` plan “ignores the existing nature and character of the neighborhood” where it will be located.

Brookside residents had aired their concerns at a May 18 Plan Commission workshop where the project was discussed, and Thursday`s hearing drew an overflow crowd at Village Hall - some had to listen in on speakers set up in the lobby - although many couldn`t attend due to a school graduation ceremony. One of the commissioners wasn`t able to attend the meeting for the same reason.

One resident presented commissioners with petitions she said were signed by 500 Brookside residents opposing the apartments.

The developers hired consulting firm Tracy Cross & Associates to do a market study on the project, and the firm`s preliminary report indicates it would be successful based on low vacancy rates in other existing apartment developments in the Tinley Park area.

Commissioners said they wanted to hold off taking a vote on site plan approval and special use permit for the project until they have the complete report, which they hope to have prior to the June 15 meeting.

“This is being rushed at us here,” Commissioner Peter Kroner said. “You`re (developer) asking us to make decisions with incomplete information.”

Commissioner Mark Moylan also said it was “kind of hard to make a full, educated decision” without having reviewed Cross` full report.

Among the issues raised by residents who spoke at the May 18 workshop were that the residents of the new development wouldn`t have a vested interest in Tinley Park that those who own homes in the village have, and the project could hurt the value of their homes.

Andrea Crowley, an attorney with Griffin & Gallagher in Palos Hills representing the developers, told the commission at Thursday`s hearing that “the trend is in luxury rentals” with amenities that will attract young professionals with high levels of disposable income. The developer anticipates rents in the range of $1,500 to $2,500.

“We want what`s best for Tinley Park too,” she said, noting the development would pay a substantial amount in taxes to the village and other taxing bodies. It would also be subject, like a town home or single-family detached housing project, to impact fees that benefit schools, the attorney said.

She said that projects such as the proposed apartment development “do bring lasting value to communities.”

Crowley said the developers wouldn`t be moving ahead with their plans, first presented to the village last July, if they weren`t confident of success.

“This is our money to lose,” she told commissioners. “We`re a for-profit company. We`re not looking to make a charitable donation.”

Kroner was quick to point out to the lawyer that he and fellow commissioners “are residents here.”

“We`re not here to make money,” he said. “We`re here to make sure this town prospers and grows.”

Kroner said ordinances he reviewed dating back several years and related to the original development scheme for that section of Brookside don`t mention rental units and questioned whether the zoning for the property allowed apartments.

Village Attorney Patrick Connelly advised commissioners it could be legally thorny to “make this a one-issue apartments versus condominiums” and make a ruling influenced by whether the development included rentals or owner-occupied housing.

“I would not advise you to make that sole decision based on that,” he told them.

Crowley also told the commission she didn`t “believe ownership is a consideration for site plan approval or for this body.”

Twitter @mnolan_J

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