UPDATE: Because of a mistake made on the agenda, the Mount Pleasant Village Board did not vote on the Campbell Woods project. ORIGINAL STORY: After a prolonged public debate, the Mount Pleasant Plan Commission denied a request for rezoning Wednesday for the development of a senior living facility near the Campbell Woods subdivision. Located at the northeast corner of highways 31 and KR, the planned development was a 180,000 square-foot, 170 unit assisted living facility, valued at $36.75 million. Prior to a neighborhood meeting in September, the plan called for a 254,000 square-foot building with 270 units. Many residents speaking against the development at the meeting conceded that they thought a senior living campus was something Mt. Pleasant needed, but said the land in Campbell Woods was the wrong location for such a facility.

Developer Changes Density

This was the second time the developer, Joe Campbell, brought the plan before the commission, which had previously tabled the item. At the first meeting, members of the commission asked Campbell to return with a traffic impact analysis, an appraisers report determining any adverse impact to surrounding properties and voluntarily agree to a provisional rezone. “We’ve really condensed the footprint of that building,” said Tom Jeziorski, of Chicago-based PFB Architects. The facility was going to be a higher end, more expensive, establishment than facilities like the Primrose Retirement Community on Newman Road. Zoning commission staff recommended approval of the re-zoning, the conditional use permit, and site plan. However, many residents opposed the project. Some were upset that facility may bring down property values, others were concerned about light and noise pollution along with additional traffic in their secluded neighborhood. “I will reiterate, that when we bought our home in 2005, it was our understanding that only single-family homes would be planned for this neighborhood,” said Robert Evangelisti, vice president of the Campbell Woods Homeowners Association.

Original Plan Included Single-Family Homes

In the late 1990’s, Campbell came before the plan commission to have his property zoned for the Campbell Woods, which sits on a wooded area that his family has owned since the 60’s. Joe Maier, commission vice president, said the first time Campbell tried to have his property zoned for development was a “fight,” the same as it has been this time around. The community was originally developed to be an expensive, environmentally friendly neighborhood of single-family homes. Campbell said he’s now developing the senior community in lieu of more residential units because there is no longer a sustainable market for them. This new development, Campbell said, will have a positive economic impact on the village. With 90 to 110 full or part time employees at the senior campus. Nearly $40 million in development costs, over $20 million of which would go to construction alone, with 55 divisions of work employing over 275 people. An estimated $550,000 in real estate taxes will be generated will also be generated by the facility.

Neighbors Challenge Developer’s Stance

Several local residents, including Campbell Woods Homeowners Association President Jim Germain, challenged the notion that there wasn’t a market for more single-family homes in the area. Barton DeLacy, of DeLacy Consulting, a Chicago-based real estate advisory firm, agreed saying his research found a “demonstrably active market” in the area. Campbell’s argued that his valuation study found no reason for his facility to affect property values. He said his study relies on tax assessed values, “Which have no validity relative to sales values.”

Plan Commission Members Mostly Side With Neighbors

Commission members John Hewitt, Floyd Leonard and Robert Underhill agreed with the residents. They said Campbell should not change the development purpose of his land, because Campbell marketed his property as a place for high-end single-family homes. “They trusted you and they thought there was integrity and ethics, and now that has come to question because you changed this whole thing,” Hewitt said. But Stan Schultz, a plan commission staff member, countered their point saying that previous zoning doesn’t preclude land from being rezoned for another purpose. The Village’s code views senior housing as residential, even in a development like that proposed by Campbell. Commissioner Jon Hansen, a village trustee, also said the seniors in the community deserved an upscale assisted living facility and recognized other potential positives like jobs and tax revenue for the village. “If you want to control the use of the property, you have to own it,” Hansen said. A point of irony not lost on some residents, Kelly Gallaher, of Mount Pleasant, said she thought it was absurd that many of the development’s detractors live on recently developed lots themselves. Ultimately, the petition constituted an “inconsistent use” for the property, and that was grounds to deny the rezoning, said Commissioner John Kis. The commission voted to deny the rezoning, conditional use permit and the site plan application 6-1, with Chairman Davis Driver the only dissenting voter. The petition to rezone and conditional use permit will go before the Village Board.  

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