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City OKs Group Care Home Plan for Downtown Wheaton

Wheaton City Council approved a plan to build a group care home

Wheaton City Council members Monday approved the STARS Family Services plan to build a 15-resident group care home for developmentally disabled adults at the corner of Cross Street and Union Avenue in Wheaton.

STARS, a nonprofit providing small supportive living arrangements and other services to developmentally disabled adults of the STARS Disability Ministry of College Church in Wheaton, plans to build two single-family homes with a common courtyard. The homes would be completed in stages, with the second home constructed as funding allows. 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.

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City officials voted 6-0 Monday, allowing STARS to proceed with one of the homes and the courtyard, the Chicago Tribune reported. The group will need to obtain another license from the city's group care home commission for the second home. 

Since opening its first house in north Wheaton in June 2011, 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 a city memo.

"It's a house, not an institution," attorney David Bay, who represents STARS, told the city's Planning and Zoning board at a June meeting. "It will blend well with the neighborhood. You wouldn't know it's anything other than an ordinary house."

Ray Chase, president of STARS, told Council Monday the group serves about 110 families in Wheaton and surrounding communities, according to the Tribune.

Related:

  • Group Home Proposal Passes Wheaton Commission
  • Zoning Board Gives Nod to Proposed Group Home
  • Nonprofit Seeks to Build Group Care Home in Downtown Wheaton
Blake Williams November 09, 2012 at 02:34 PM
This was greased right through, small town/powerful religious organization politics at its finest. There was no consideration to reduced size, limiting it to one structure permanently. When alternatives were discussed, council members and STARS members took offense to the local neighborhood’s representation. This is an alarming trend considering the monster build out of apartments and senior center expansion all within a 3-4 block area. With the added congestion and traffic, maybe we can finally get our Scott/Franklin Stop sign.
Kathy Langlois November 09, 2012 at 07:05 PM
We have many group homes in Wheaton--for ex-convicts, troubled teens, veterans, etc. The small model works when members live as families in single family homes. Once you put 15 people together in one location, it stops feeling like a family setting which changes how those members interact with neighbors and the community and limits the future possibilities of how that property can be used. I've worked hard to be able to provide my family a life in a town as great as Wheaton. I think maintaining the integrity of the family atmosphere within an R4 district is something worth fighting for. The city allowed STARS to bypass Article X R4 zoning requirements with a PUD permit. Our zoning says that two single family group homes cannot be within 500 feet of another. It also says that there are bulk lot size requirements for uses that are not specifically permitted--which means a lot size would have to be an acre and a half to allow a 15-resident facility in a residential neighborhood. This lot is much smaller than 1-1/2 acres. We asked the zoning board, group home commission and city council to limit this to one house. They all failed the citizens of Wheaton by subjectively interpreting the rules to facilitate the ambitions of this well-intentioned group. Regardless of my support of the STARS organization and their mission and my welcoming of STARS members as my neighbors, this decision sets a slippery slope of a precedent and I along with most of my neighbors oppose it.

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