A special use permit to allow to operate in the on Pine Street moved forward with unanimous action by the Monday after spirited discussion for the public.
The Board approved the unanimous recommendation of the Plan Commission to grant the special use permit to Starland, a fixture in Deerfield, to move from its current facility on Robert York Road to the Pine Street location.
directed Village attorney Peter Colbentz to draft an ordinance which will be presented to the board at its next meeting Jan. 17. Starland will purchase the property from the church, use it for its children’s program and lease it to the church so the religious institution can continue its mission in Deerfield.
More than 30 people attended the meeting with nine offering opinions—five against and four in support—both strongly opposed to the effort and some enthusiastically in favor.
“In my tech arts class we learned a computer language,” sixth grader Aaron Cohen said. “When I got to school this year I was able to teach the lesson,” he added explaining how Starland has put him ahead of grade level in some studies.
A number of people who opposed the special use permit did not want to see a private for profit business operate in a residential neighborhood. They had concerns about safety and traffic.
“A commercial establishment in a residential setting is not in the public interest,” Brian Condon said. “Our message is not against Starland. If this were a school we wouldn’t be here but the proposal is about making money.”
Rosenthal then gave a history lesson about the property which was originally the Cadwell Elementary School. The building ceased to be a school approximately 30 years ago and was then leased by the school district to a day care center. It then became a church.
Joanne Kunz also expressed concerns the special use permit would alter the character of the neighborhood. She concentrated her remarks on traffic and safety issues.
“We are going to open a Pandora’s Box,” Kunz said. “Unlike a school the traffic will happen all day. We don’t want a tragedy here. Too many people glide through stop signs and speed.” She asked if statistics existed on speeding on Pine Street.
Rosenthal promised before any action is taken on the ordinance in two weeks traffic information would be gathered and considered. “Nothing is going to be final tonight,” she said.
Sharon Cohen, Aaron’s mother, felt the church traffic would be little different from the cars going in and out of Starland. She was also critical of what she categorized as a shifting message of the project’s opponents.
“The profit structure (of Starland) is not an issue,” Cohen said. “If this was a synagogue or a school we wouldn’t be here. If this were a not for profit we wouldn’t be here. This is an asset to the community.”
Village Trustee noted the uses intended for the property by Starland were within the permitted intentions of a special use permit under Deerfield’s zoning ordinance.
In other action, the Board approved a series of property tax abatements lowering the amount Deerfield citizens will pay next year. This action affirmed the savings discussed .