A proposed three-story,16-unit Sertoma Centre apartment building was recommended for approval by an Orland Park Village Board committee last week, and will now go to the full village board for a vote.
Typically, issues approved at committee level are voted on at the next village board meeting, which in this case is Feb. 5.
The proposed development, designed for Sertoma clients who can live independently with support services, has already been approved by the village Plan Commission. It would be built on property adjacent to forest preserves, at the end of what is now a cul-de-sac, at the end of Union Street, north of 143rd Street and west of Southwest Highway. An underused funeral home is located there now.
The mission of Sertoma Centre, Inc., according to the organization’s website, is “to provide opportunities that empower individuals with disabilities to achieve personal success.”
Sertoma “envisions communities where all people with disabilities live, work and fully participate.”
Orland Park Assistant Village Manager Karie Friling, who also heads the Development Services Department, explained the plans at the Orland Park Village Board’s Development Services, Planning and Engineering Committee meeting on Jan. 15.
She said the building would have two two-bedroom apartments and the rest would be one-bedroom units. The building will also include a couple of rooms where residents can either socialize or meet with counselors.
A spokesperson for Sertoma said at the committee meeting that the location within the downtown zoning district fits the needs of Sertoma and its clients, being within walking distance of the Metra station at 143rd Street, as well as amenities such as stores and restaurants while having minimal impact on the residents who currently live on the block.
Most of the apartment residents will not have cars, and Sertoma representatives said the building will likely have minimal impact on the single-family residences on the street.
However, John Newton, an attorney for resident Cynthia Thompson, said his client is against the project.
“My client has no objection to Sertoma coming in to Orland Park. They do good work. But this does not make sense in that location.”
He claimed it would have an “adverse effect on property values. It will discourage some buyers of the single-family homes, if they see an apartment building next-door.
“I understand this is an older street and there have been non-conforming uses. But just because (Sertoma) is a noble cause, it shouldn’t be rubber-stamped at any location,” said Newton. “We would like to see this not proceed, before a traffic study is done.”
Friling pointed out that the apartments would be built on what was a commercially zoned piece of property where a funeral home was located.
“What you have is a less-intense development, if you look at the renderings, it is a traditional-looking building. It looks like townhomes. It has a very residential feel,” she said. “This is going to generate such insignificant traffic, that this could result in having more green space. We are saving a number of heritage trees, too.”
Responding to questions from trustees Carole Ruzich and Kathy Fenton about staffing and other issues, the Sertoma representatives said that the social service agency manages 11 residences throughout the southwest suburbs. Most are single-family homes where clients live independently, and one in Homewood is an apartment building like the one being considered in Orland Park.
Sertoma staff will manage the site, with the property manager onsite several times a week.
Before recommending the project for approval, Ruzich also got confirmation from village staff that the apartment building would be subject to all the standard rules and regulations followed elsewhere in the village, including permits and inspections.