The city's Planning and Zoning board expressed support on Tuesday for a new group care home proposed for the southeast corner of Cross Street and Union Avenue.
STARS Family Services, a nonprofit that provides supportive living arrangements developmentally disabled adults, is proposing to build a group home that would house up to 15 people in downtown Wheaton.
STARS officials described a plan two build two single-family homes with a common courtyard. The homes would be completed in stages, with the second home constructed as funding allows.
"It's a house, not an institution," attorney David Bay, who represents STARS, told the board. "It will blend well with the neighborhood. You wouldn't know it's anything other than an ordinary house."
Board members were pleased with the proposed home's style and how it matched the neighborhood look, and praised STARS' mission. Questions on the project were mainly focused on procedures related to residents and changes to parking and traffic issues.
"What you guys are striving to do is very important," board member Scott Shorney commented.
The board voted unanimously to approve the plan's zoning. The proposal now moves to the Wheaton Group Care Home Commission, but it wasn't immediately clear when that will occur. The City Council would take up the matter after the commission.
STARS provides small supportive living arrangements and related services to developmentally disabled adults of the STARS Disability Ministry of College Church in Wheaton, according to a Wheaton city staff memo.
Since opening its first house in north Wheaton last June, the organization has received applications from more than 20 adults who live with their aging parents, who, “are finding it increasingly difficult to care for their adult children,” according to the memo.
To house up to 15 residents, the facility would be comprised of two housing structures with a courtyard, constructed in two phases, according to the memo. Each home would have an attached two-car garage with a shared driveway off of Union Avenue. Guest, volunteer and staff parking will be on the shared driveway.
Wheaton city staff recommended approval of STARS’ zoning application if the applicant testifies that parking will be adequate for the proposed use, and obtains a license from the Wheaton Group Care Home Commission, according to the memo.