Palatine residents complained about the affordable housing development planned for the former Kinsch Village Florist and Garden Center property at 301 W. Johnson St. during Palatine Village Council’s Aug. 15 meeting — almost a month after council members approved the project.
Northpointe, the Oshkosh, WI-based developer, has been looking to build a 58-unit, three-story structure that would be affordable to tenants earning 30-80% of the Area Median Income for Cook County, which, depending on the size of the unit, would be between $1,000 and $1,500 a month. It originally sought zoning changes to be able to build at 874-920 N. Quentin Rd., but the village denied it amid public backlash, with nearby residents complaining about the size of the property and expressing concerns about traffic issues.
With the Kinsch site, the zoning was already there. The village simply needed to approve the site plan, which the council did on July 11 without significant issues.
During last week’s meeting, residents argued that they didn’t get enough advance notice to attend the July 11 meeting, and that the building would hurt their quality of life. They argued that the building would worsen existing traffic issues caused by parents picking up and dropping off students at the nearby Paddock Elementary School. Several speakers said they were concerned that affordable housing would increase crime, and said that their attorneys advised them to move out. But Village Manager Reid Ottesen said that the council didn’t have any legal grounds to reject the site, and said he would set up a meeting between residents and Northpointe to try to address their concerns.
The project is partially funded with $15 million in tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, which requires Northpointe to build the development in Palatine. Sean O’Brien, the company’s principal, previously described the project as a way to make sure Palatine’s working-class residents have quality housing in the community.
The building will contain a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. The side of the building facing Johnson Street will be made up of four, two-story, three-bedroom apartments. Unlike the Quentin Road version of the development, there is a buffer between the site and the single-family homes further west. Northpointe plans to keep the forested area on the west half of the property intact.
When the council reviewed the Quentin Road version of the proposal, residents were asked not to comment on the affordable housing aspect, since the council was only looking at zoning and traffic issues.
During the most recent council meeting, residents complained that they weren’t notified about the project — something the village wasn’t required to do because there was no zoning change — and only found out about it through media reports.
Nancy Burgess, who lives in a four-story condo building at 245 W. Johnson, said that she “understand[s] the need for affordable housing,” and while she believes that Palatine did everything legally, she argued that not notifying the nearby residents about the project wasn’t “ethical.” She also said she was worried about the impact on traffic, safety and property values.
“We already see drug deals on the street leading to Paddock school,” Burgess said. “It seems that the level of crime is already up. We don’t want to see the crime in the area worsen.”
Julie Renalli, who lives in the same building, said she had the same concerns about traffic, and she was among the several residents who said they were advised to move out.
“My son, who is the Realtor, told me to sell and get out of Palatine,” she said. “So I guess I won’t be your problem much longer, and I just wanted to have my say.”
Larry Karkos echoed concerns about traffic and argued that, even if the zoning allowed the development on that site, it made no sense to treat it as if it wouldn’t be a mjor change for the parcel.
Ottesen defended the village’s handling of the issue, noting that the Kinsch property has been zoned for multi-family housing for “60-70 years” and that other developers proposed something “2-3 times” the size of the Northpointe proposal. He also described Northpointe’s traffic consultant as “one of the premiere traffic consultants in the area.”
Ottesen pushed back on criticism of the affordable housing aspect.
“Who’s living there has absolutely nothing to do with it,” he said. “I’m absolutely ashamed there are people who want to make it an issue right now. Everyone has a right for fair housing.”
Addressing the councilmen directly, he emphasized that, given what was presented on July 11, they had no grounds to turn down the site plan.
“Everything was done above board, everything was done to the letter of the law,” Ottesen said.
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August 24, 2022 at 09:14PM