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Plan Commission to Advocate Christ: ‘You Didn’t Answer Our Questions’

Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission stands firm in refusing to give its recommendation to medical center expansion plans until Advocate Christ sufficiently addresses neighborhood concerns.

The Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission respectfully refused to reopen a public hearing for Advocate Christ because the

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and Oak Lawn planning commissions had agreed last month that the village would submit questions on specific aspects of the medical center’s planned expansion. The hospital management team skipped the last PDC meeting saying it needed more time to respond to the village’s questions.

PDC chair Steve Radice said that the only reason the commission agreed to submiting questions in the first place was because

“To date, neither Advocate’s management team nor their recently attained legal counsel have abided by our request,” Radice said. “You have not answered all the questions, in fact, you have only answered a handful of the questions.”

Radice added during Monday’s PDC meeting that the and that only 14 had been answered, many referring to a newly commissioned impact study by the hospital.

“It’s our duty and our obligation to each and every citizen of this great community to do the best job possible in representing them,” Radice said, motioning to postpone the public hearing. “Without the requested complete answers to all our questions, it’s impossible for us to move forward to our job tonight.”

Medical center employees who live in Oak Lawn also packed village hall armed with pre-printed talking points in support of Advocate Christ’s $600 million expansion.

“I’m only guessing employees are here to address what a great hospital Christ is,” Radice said. “Advocate Christ saved my father’s life a couple of years ago. I don’t think anyone up here thinks that this hospital should just remain status quo or should not grow or expand. We’re all in agreement that it should.”

Advocate Christ’s newly obtained legal counsel, Greg Graines of DLA Piper, “made the record clear” that the medical center answered “14 of the village’s 24 questions.”

“I counted over 30,” Radice replied.

Graines explained it was confusing because some of the village's questions were “outside the scope” of the PDC’s responsibilities, in terms of the zoning process for special use, height and setback variances.

“What we were intending to do was focus on that part of the zoning process …” Graines said. “Things that were outside the scope were more campus wide and not specific to this project. We view the questions outside the scope of this hearing as part of this ongoing community relationship process.”

Plan commissioner John Eggert said he thought Advocate Christ’s answers were “well thought out, articulate and intelligent.”

“I’m sorry this process is delayed,” Eggert said, “but because there’s now reference to a study being done, as much as I don’t like to say this, I feel compelled to stay that we should now wait and see the results of the study and see what they bring to the table.”

Radice would also not allow public testimony from the Advocate Christ workers or neighbors living near the medical center, thanking them for their time.

The medical center needs village's blessing before it can obtain a certificate of need from the state to begin construction to make the April 2015 opening for the inpatient tower.

Last year, the currently under construction.

“I’d say that if this board was against this expansion and it was known, I’d say bring on the testimony. We’re all on the same page that we need to get this done,” Radice said, “but you already did that on May 7 with seven doctors. None of us were surprised by all the lives you saved.”

Initially, Radice continued, plan commissioners weren’t going to ask the medical center for another impact study but hire a firm mutually agreed upon by Advocate Christ and the village to vet the most important parts of existing studies.

“In the meantime it seems like Advocate chose its own company to do the impact study,” Radice added. “I don’t know if [you] worked with the village on that.”

Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said that Advocate Christ has not sat down to meet with the village in over a month. Email exchanges, he said, weren't sufficient.

“You’ve seen democracy in action. Our job as stewards is to make sure that we carefully and considerately look at your application, but there has been no face-to-face communication since May 3 with Advocate Christ,” Deetjen said. “That will not get the job done.”

Asked after the meeting to describe Advocate Christ’s answers to village’s questions about the proposed expansion to date, Deetjen responded, “incomplete.”

Commissioners voted to table the public hearing and put the nine petitions on hold until the next PDC meeting on June 18. Eggert was the lone dissenting vote.

osp June 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Zurek and Tara where do you get your information from? Zurek have you ever attended a meeting or do you just sit in front of your computer and rant? Go to a meeting see what is happening as to why no one was allowed to speak. There is a point of order to these meetings. You would sue to speak at a meeting? Really? Again where have any of the commissioners they are against this project? Zurek where do you work? Christ? Why don't you go to a meeting and when you are told you can't speak because no one is being allowed to speak tell them you are going to file a lawsuit? Why is Advocate Christ making it a point about how many patients were turned away last year when this was in the works since 2007 but they decided to delay it? Tara I will ask you the same question as Zurek do you work at Christ? Where has Advocate been for the last 5 years when this project was brought before the P&D? Back then it was PROJECT 2012. Now it is PROJECT 2015. And because they want a fast pass of this now the board is supposed to bend over backwards. As far as the P&D board is concerned, they get a very small stipend for what they do. All trustees have a say as to who is on the board with most of the appointments coming from the Mayor himself. Also Tara why don't you go to the board meeting and sit through the meeting instead of complaining on the internet which is an easy way out.
Matthew Howe June 07, 2012 at 01:32 AM
What people tend to overlook is how many people and money Christ brings in to Oak Lawn. People eat, fill their gas tank, and even buy gifts when visting people in the hospital. It also puts the city on a map because every advertisement for Christ is like free publicity for Oak Lawn
J. J. Zurek June 07, 2012 at 05:21 AM
See Lorraine this is why I don't like blogs, whoever OSP is, I might have hit a nerve or something. For your information "OSP" I know more about Roberts Rules of Order then most residents of Oak Lawn. I know all about tabling items, I know all about roll call votes verses by acclimation votes. I don't hide behind initials and I don't rant. I also go to great lengths not to attack anyone personally, yes "OPS" if there was a meeting, and I was not allowed to speak and the floor was open and I was denied, if that is not a violation of my 1st Amendment rights what is ? "OPS" this is a blog, people are supposed to voice their opinions, and that is exactly what I did. If you read any and all of my responses you will see they are directly attributed to the previous postings. The comment was made about how many residents of Christ live in Oak Lawn, my question is how many Village Employees live in Oak Lawn. The very bottom line here is the Village of Oak Lawn either needsor wants Advocate Christ to pay and or contribute some money to the Village, so why not just sit down with the Executives of Advocate Christ and say we need "X" amount of money from you on an annual basis becasue of "X" "Y" & "Z". The Officials of Oak Lawn really have a lot of explaining to do anyway. They claim people and corporations are ripping off the Village, they hire lawyers at the Tax Payer's expense, they supposedly find wrong doing, they supposedly sign some confidential agreement, TO BE CONTINUED
J. J. Zurek June 07, 2012 at 05:46 AM
I truly believe that the agreement is not actually binding, private individuals can agree to keep things confidential, I am extremely certain Units of Local Governments need to comply with Freedom of Information Statutes. I am really surprised that the Southtown Star and/or the Sun-Times didn't already file a freedom of information request, there must really be some humdinger information for all the noise that was made to become as quiet as a church mouse. I believe when the smoke clears, the expansion will be completed, now that Advocate Christ was just recognized as being in the top 10 or top 100 whatever and no "OSP" I don't work for the hospital, and if you remotely think that I was ranting, you are a very poor excuse for a kettle calling the pot black. If you read the previous comments it was said, Mr. Steve Radice would not let someone speak, it did not say the item was stricken from the agenda so not comments from the floor was necessary. Ergo in closing I am ready willing and able to debate anyone any time I sit down and put pen to paper, if I feel that strongly about something, and I sign my name too. The only time you will see JJZ if I am communicating with a friend or a colleague, who knows my identity. Their is an old adage that says "The Truth Hurts" and there is a lot of truth to that statement.
Steve Radice June 07, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Dear J.J Zurek, "I apologize, but I don't know you" a fellow commissioner of mine contacted me yesterday to tell me I wasn't well liked in the comments of the Patch - after reading your many comments about me and the commission {which I happen to respect} I will gladly sit down with you and explain my / our reasoning for not re-opening the public hearing at this past Monday's P&D meeting. I am not in the least bit concerned about law suits or anything like that, I simply feel because of the passion I sense you have about the village, you deserve a more in-depth answer. If you would like to speak or meet with me, please feel free to leave your name and phone number with someone in the Village's office and ask them to forward it to me, I will then call you asap to see if we can schedule a convenient time to meet. Thank you and I look forward to meeting you soon,,, Steve Radice Oak Lawn P&D Commissioner

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