Two Elmhurst institutions approached officials Monday for help with projects on south end of the city that are in very different stages of development. The city's Development, Planning and Zoning Committee signed off on requests Elmhurst Memorial Hospital and Timothy Christian School made as part of each organization's expansion plans.
The committee recommended approval of Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare's request for a conditional use permit for a new 192-foot communication tower at the hospital's Business Operations Center, 855 N. Church Court. The tower currently on that site is not tall enough to transmit data to the new hospital at York and Roosevelt roads, according to city Planning and Zoning Administrator Than Warner. EMH's new campus is expected to be open to the public this summer.
Scott Day, an attorney for EMH, told the committee that the hospital was open to sharing the use of the tower, perhaps with the city, but would not be looking to rent space on the tower for profit.
Sixth Ward Alderman and committee Chairman Steve Morley asked Day if EMH had considered other locations. Day responded that the structures planned for the new campus were not currently high enough to accommodate the tower and the Church Court location is already in a largely industrial area.
Timothy Christian School , 188 W. Butterfield Road, requested a fourth six-month extension to a conditional use approval granted by the city in March 2009 for new classroom construction. Paul Buikema, an attorney representing Timothy Christian, told the committee that more time was needed for the project because the economy and changes in school leadership have hampered fund-raising efforts.
“There's no question that the economy stopped the initial development,” Buikema said.
When asked how much money needed to be raised to begin the project, Buikema could not provide an exact figure but indicated that the sum was “significant.”
Alderman, while supportive of the school's need for an extension, worried about setting a precedent of indefinite extensions for other projects. Warner told the committee that there is no limit to the number of conditional use permit extensions that can be granted, and that the time period does not have to be six months. Alderman asked Buikema if extending the approval to the end of the year would allow the school enough time to start work, a solution Buikema agreed to.
Both issues will be presented to the City Council in a report from the committee at next Monday's meeting, and they may be presented for approval at the following meeting.