Neighbors sue Oak Park over affordable housing project

Lawsuit says proposal runs counter to zoning code

January 15th, 2019 12:13 PM

By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

A group of residents who live near a yet-to-be-constructed 37-unit affordable housing building are suing the village of Oak Park, saying its approval of the development runs afoul of the village's zoning code.

Nicholas Diorio, Nestor Feliciano, John M. Clark and Vincent and Deborah Bray object to the village's approval of the proposal at the corner of South Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren Street by Community Builders Inc.

Plaintiffs' attorney Keith Vogt did not return calls requesting comment. Oak Park village spokesman David Powers said that "as a matter of policy and practice, we do comment on possible or pending litigation."

The lawsuit, filed in early December in the Cook County Circuit Court notes that the village's zoning ordinance states that any variance from the zoning ordinance "will not impair an adequate supply of light and air to adjacent properties, substantially increase congestion in public streets, increase the danger of fire, endanger public safety or impair property values within the neighborhood."

The proposal asked for variances from the zoning code, including: allowing 37 units, which is 21 over the allowed zoning; increasing the height of the building from the allowed 45 feet to 48 feet; and reducing the required number of parking spaces from 37 to 23.

The lawsuit argues that the developer did not demonstrate that the development "would not cause impairment to properties, including property values, closest to the development, in violation of the 2017 VOP Zoning Ordinance."

The lawsuit also takes issue with the development's proposed use of the alley behind the proposed development, showing that on Dec. 15, 2005, the Oak Park Zoning Commission rejected a proposal to put a drive-thru bank at the site, because it would have used the alley as its principle entrance. The zoning commission found that the alley was "too narrow for two-way traffic" and would "increase the number of conflicts between vehicles."

They argue that the proposed development would cause a similar problem.

The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved the project in mid-October and has committed $500,000 from an affordable housing fund to the $14.6-million project.