Updated: March 15, 2014 6:18AM
Despite the concerns of several residents, the Homer Glen Village Board on Tuesday night approved plans for a group home for the developmentally disabled.
Trustees approved a special-use zoning permit for Trinity Services, a nonprofit organization founded in 1950, to use a house in the 17600 block of Crystal Lake Drive as a group home for four adult men, two with Down syndrome and two with autism. A trained staff member will be on-site around the clock, according to Trinity Services executive director Art Dykstra.
There was mixed reaction to the proposal among the more than 50 residents who attended the village board meeting.
Some, including the parents of the four men who will reside there, supported the group home, while many in the immediate neighborhood said they were concerned about upkeep of the property, how the group home would impact property values and Trinity’s record of service.
Several residents said they had nothing against disabled people but questioned whether Trinity Services maintains its property well and said they feared the group home would become a blight on the neighborhood.
“Trinity Services has not been a good steward of their group homes,” resident Anthony Cooke said.
Dykstra denied that and tried to alleviate residents’ concerns about the group home, offering to meet with neighbors and giving them his home phone number.
“I would be proud to live next to them,” he said of the home’s residents. “They will be wonderful neighbors and good citizens.”
Mayor Jim Daley said the village would make sure that Trinity complies with Homer Glen’s codes and ordinances or its special-use permit would be revoked.
Parents of the men who are to live in the home spoke of the men’s desire to live independently and urged the neighbors to not be fearful of them. The men, who range in age from 18 to 28, work in the community, participate in Special Olympics and play sports, their parents said.
Lori McAleavy’s son has autism and wants to live in a group home.
“They need to live their lives, full lives,” she said. “These boys will be a family together. They will help each other out. ... I really hope you welcome them into the community and treat them like neighbors.”
Aileen Batistich said she has lived in Homer Glen for 41 years and has never experienced any intolerance or pity toward her son, who has Down syndrome. She urged the village board to approve the group home so her son could remain in his hometown in a residential setting.
“Afford them the opportunity to live in peace and dignity,” she said. “We are all neighbors. It would be ideal if we could all act friendly and cordial to one another.”
The village board voted 4 to 2 to approve the group home, with trustees Sharon Sweas and Margaret Sabo voting against it. Trustee George Yukich was absent. Daley cast the fourth vote in favor of the home.