Community residents Thursday showed strong support for proposed apartments for developmentally disabled adults, filling the room with a show of hands before the Flossmoor Plan Commission recommended approval.
Commission members unanimously voted in favor of the plan and proposed rezoning of two lots at 1032 and 1038 Leavitt Ave. Their recommendation will be forwarded to the Flossmoor Village Board, which has the final say on whether the apartment complex – the first of its kind in Illinois — will be built.
As currently proposed, the complex would contain six apartments in two buildings, the former Martsci Montessori School and on the site of a house located just to the north.
Before the vote, three Flossmoor parents of developmentally disabled children addressed the commission.
One called the proposed apartments “a wonderful thing” and said her 22-year-old daughter would be happy in an apartment where she’d be able to live independently but still receive services when needed.
Another, the mother of an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, said the apartments would be a natural fit in a “culturally diverse” community like Flossmoor.
The third asked audience members to raise their hands if they supported the apartment proposal. There were about 25 persons in the audience and nearly all raised their hands.
New Hope Center, a south suburban not-for-profit that provides services to persons with intellectual and age-related disabilities, last month presented its plan for the apartment complex. Under the original plan, New Hope would open eight apartments, which would have exceeded village density rules.
Commission members asked New Hope to revise the plan, reducing the number of apartments and increasing the number of parking spaces to comply with village code.
Tim Knapp, New Hope’s executive director, said the agency’s architect completely changed the plan. The proposed number of apartments was cut from eight to six and the plan now includes 12 parking spaces, two for each unit. A gabled roof has been added.
Commission Chairperson John Curran thanked New Hope for making the changes and said the newly designed complex is more aesthetically pleasing.
Knapp told the commission that the location of the apartment complex is important for prospective tenants, who are likely to be high school graduates with jobs. The apartments would be located just west of downtown Flossmoor with its post office, Metra station, shops and restaurants.
“We are trying to create opportunities for people who are now living at home and who do not want to live in a group home,” Knapp said. “They want to live as independently as possible in an apartment setting.”
Tenants will have 12-month leases, have their own entrances to the apartments and pay for utilities. The apartments will generate property taxes, Knapp said.
New Hope operates 14 group homes in South Cook County and Northeast Will County. Knapp said the Flossmoor apartments would be completely different from a group home, where a New Hope employee is always on the premises. Tenants in the apartment complex will receive services from the agency, but only as needed.
New Hope is asking that the two lots on Leavitt be rezoned from single family to multi-family use. The Montessori school was operated with a special use permit. Under the plan, the house – it is the only single family structure on the block – is to be taken down.
New Hope still has not purchased the school building or house.
After the meeting, supporters of the plan said they were pleased with plan commission’s recommendation. Some of the parents thanked Margaret Epperson, who sent out emails asking Flossmoor resident to come to Thursday’s meeting and to back the plan. Epperson lives on Douglas Avenue, just west of the proposed site of the apartment complex.
“I became aware of this proposal and thought it would be good for Flossmoor,” she said. “I have friends who are parents of developmentally disabled children. If this is going to be behind anyone’s backyard, I’d like it to be mine.”