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Village Tables Medical Center's Zoning Requests for New Patient Tower

The Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission asked Advocate Christ officials for more time to vet plans addressing residents' concerns for traffic and flood control.

The Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission dolled out some harsh medicine to  Advocate Christ Medical Center, tabling its zoning change requests for a new 9-story patient tower.

Medical center officials and their consultants met with commissioners on Monday evening before a packed village hall to discuss “Phase II” of Advocate Christ’s $600 million expansion plan—the largest construction project in village history.

The village asked for more time to vet specific areas of the medical center's plans to address residents' concerns about traffic and flood control.

Advocate Christ President Ken Lukhard said the hospital is full 93 percent of time and turns away between 5,000 to 8,000 patients annually. The medical center’s emergency department is also the busiest in the state, treating up to 105,000 patients annually.

The new patient tower would allow the medical center to increase space and capacity, including additional operating rooms and doubling the size of the emergency department.

The Planning and Development Commission voted 5-2 to continue the public hearings until its next meeting on May 21.

Read the recap of Monday's Planning and Development Commission Meeting.

Sandra Bury May 08, 2012 at 01:41 PM
It’s astonishing that Advocate Christ Hospital, who billed $2.3 Billion from our community in 2010 is giving the Village push back on its concerns. This $600 Million project will impact the face and future of Oak Lawn forever. It’s the biggest project ever presented in the Village. There’s nothing wrong with the Village asking for due diligence. I thank God for the vision of the Planning and Development Commission Chair and those who voted to continue the discussion without a rubber stamp. Village Manager gave a powerful argument on behalf of the residents and voters who could make the meeting, and also for those who couldn’t be there. Who wasn’t there speaking on behalf of the residents and voters? Mayor Heilmann.
Sandra Bury May 08, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I understand he was not available, and perhaps is still basking in the glow of being honored by Advocate Christ Medical Center on Saturday as their choice for “Outstanding Community Leader.” Who is representing the issues of the voters and the community (and who is representing the needs of Advocate) on this issue? Sadly, our Mayor was not present at this most important meeting. I would love to see this expansion in our community and am thrilled that Advocate Christ Medical Center is thriving. Oak Lawn is a great place to live work and shop. I’m glad they concur. We just need to do it right the first time. It’s common sense that proper planning and organization at the ground level of the project will ensure fewer problems down the road for the residents of Oak Lawn. There’s nothing wrong with the Village asking for time to look at all the eventualities.
andy skoundrianos May 08, 2012 at 02:56 PM
The Mayor not at an important meeting?? Call Ripley's
OakLawnGuy May 08, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Any details regarding how the vote went? Who was fer and who was agin?
JohnEggert May 08, 2012 at 03:36 PM
OakLawnGuy, The vote is a public record, no secret and reason why you shouldn't know. The vote was 5-2. Those in favor of continuing the public hearing and tabling until 5/21 (for now until someone decides further delay is warranted) were Radice, Lundy, Tebo, Kishta and Kushnerik. Opposed: Eggert and Reilly.
JohnEggert May 08, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Sandra, Nice to see you there last night for the first time. To your points, nobody disagrees that this should be right. However, the "ground level" of this project was 4 years ago when ACMC first presented its planning overview to P&D, and the real launch of the expansion was the Ambulatory Pavilion and its parking garage on 95th & Kolmar. If there was a perceived need, the proposed "impact studies" could have -and should have - been requested at that time. Were you there? The chairman was, as were the manager and the trustee. But, it is what it is. You are insulting when you suggest that those who were ready to vote on the matter amount to a "rubber stamp." The public hearing last night was so far off base, and so far removed from what was actually up for consideration, the special use request (the fundamental question fo whether such an expansion would be appropriate for the area) got lost. Once that determination is made, then the specifics and studies everyone was talking about would be warranted, but if it's not approved, everyone, taxpayers included, spends money to no purpose. The "vision" you refer to is precisely what led the dialogue astray, and the real thing driving the delays should have been quite apparent by the end of the meeting. Make no mistake; the discussion last night turned on political gamesmanship. That's the real issue, and that's not the way it's supposed to be.
Garbage May 08, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Hey Andy -- no chance for a stage or photo-op -- so why would he be there?
OakLawnmann May 08, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Mr.Eggert, Why are you and the Mayor such good friends with advocate?? Is it because the two of you might be doing some legal work for advocate on the side?? No business or any other entity is bigger than the village..
JohnEggert May 08, 2012 at 04:45 PM
As Columbo says, just one more thing, ma'am. Neither the mayor nor the trustees are required or expected to attend P&D meetings. In fact, contrary to the thoughts of some on P&D, I don't believe that the presence of a trustee, the mayor or the manager enhances any meeting. In fact, over the years, it has been apparent to me that residents usually feel more open without elected officials present, and it is the function of P&D to be the fact finder for them. Besides, the Village Board and President get their opportunity for input when matters come to them, and it is they who then "speak on behalf of the residents and voters." We may see an occasional trustee when there is a particular concern regarding a project in his or her district, as in this case with Mr. Duhig. One trustee even suggested that asking them all to be there last night was a bad idea. Even though it was my idea, I tend to agree with that. Remember, too, that P&D is only a recommending body, and the final say is always, and rightly, with the Village Board and the President. As for your statement that the mayor is "basking" in the receipt of his award from Advocate, I am mindful of two things: (1) the mayor and the manager have been involved in virtually every discussion and meeting that has taken place with Advocate on this expansion (You presumably heard Mr. Lukhard's statement to that effect); and (2) you just can't help taking cheap shots at the mayor.
JohnEggert May 08, 2012 at 05:20 PM
For me, because this project is good for Oak Lawn, it will create jobs all over the place, and it will have a continued positive impact on the Village economy. Your suggestion about doing "legal work on the side" is not only wrong and inappropriate, it wants to imply improper activity for which I could lose my job, my license and my conscience, none of which is worth sacrificing for any amount of money. Same goes for the mayor, who is a good person with high standards, integrity and a conscience - as I believe are the clerk, the manager and the trustees. We can all differ on policy and other matters - and we do - but there should be no compromise on those. As for the comment that no business or entity is bigger than the Village, you are right, and that's why Advocate has to ask for approvals from the Village.
OakLawnGuy May 08, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Thanks! I know it's public record, just couldn't find it. Your posts below only support my gut reaction when I got from the Board meeting that trustees might attend: politics would win the day. The PDC is supposed to be structured, charged with and trusted to represent the community. If not, why not have trustees and the Mayor attend all the meetings? I'd be very surprised, in spite of anyone else's contention to the contrary, if the Mayor was not aware of all that's involved in this tower. (I have the feeling that if he attended, and expressed his views, he'd be attacked as a grandstander.)
Dist. 2 Curious May 08, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Everybody's picking sides here and trading shots but nobody is talking about the project whether it's good or bad.
Oak Lawn Gal May 08, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Can you tell it's an election year in Oak Lawn ? Lol :) I personally think that waiting to address resident concerns about traffic, flood control and anything else is fine. The patient center will almost certainly be eventually approved. It's a great thing for oak Lawn to see this expansion and the jobs it generates. Not to mention how it adds to the profile of Oak Lawn. I also can't imagine the mayor and trustees (aside from Duhig) attending a meeting of this sort. It was a P&D meeting and for the mayor and other trustees to attend would have been more of a distraction imo.
JohnEggert May 08, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Election year? You are so right! If there's any one thing to be learned after years of watching and participating on the perimeter of Oak Lawn politics, it's if you can't see the humor or irony in some of these things and can't laugh (at least chuckle or smile) at them, it can be a long four years in between and a really hard year every four.
Bob May 08, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Advocate is the biggest employer in oaklawn and this project will bring much needed construction jobs.
Steve Radice May 08, 2012 at 09:46 PM
As Chairman of the Oak Lawn Planning & Development Commission, I feel it’s both inappropriate and unprofessional for any Village Official or Commissioner (in this case) to use a public forum to grandstand and / or take shots at residents, village officials or fellow commissioners, those comments should be voiced at the board meetings and / or public hearings where people have the ability to defend themselves “Face to Face” not when someone is hiding behind a computer screen. I don’t have the authority to control what or where my fellow P&D Commissioners voice their feelings and comments about their negative feelings, but I would humbly ask that they represent their position as village commissioners with respect and dignity, and refrain from bad-mouthing or slamming anyone having anything to do with our P&D meetings. In order to comply with my request of my fellow commissioners, I won’t be commenting on any follow up emails in this forum, if anyone would like to speak with me directly regarding anything having to do with any of our P&D meeting, please feel free to leave your name and phone number at the village hall and I will do my best to follow up with you as soon as possible. Respectfully, Steve Radice Chairman - Oak Lawn Planning & Development Committee
Sandra Bury May 08, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I understand your feelings, John. I respect them and your service to Oak Lawn. In regards to Mayor Heilmann’s award, I am always happy to see someone honored in this way. The right thing for Mayor Heilmann to do in this instance would be to politely decline the award. It gives the impression of a conflict of interest. The reason for this is that the Village is in negotiations with Advocate Christ Medical Center regarding a proposed “community health services” fee. This fee would partially compensate the village for wear and tear on infrastructure and use of the Oak Lawn Police and Fire Departments. Advocate Christ Medical Center currently does not pay one dime in municipal taxes. They use our roads, our sewers, our streetlights, our police department, our fire department and other resources.
Sandra Bury May 08, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Advocate Christ Medical Center organization is a non-profit corporation and even though they billed the community for $2,314,379,346.00 in 2010 and had $88 million in profits that year alone, they did not pay one dime to the village in taxes. The residents in the area do pay taxes. The village officials work for the taxpayers and voters. Because these negotiations are still occurring, one might have the impression that giving a prestigious award such as this might influence the decisions of the party receiving the award. If they gave the Mayor a new car or vacation, it would have the same effect in one’s mind. While Advocate Christ Medical Center is certainly free to honor anyone they wish, I feel it is inappropriate for the Mayor to appear to be beholden in any way to an entity he is in negotiations with. I’m sorry you think it’s a cheap shot John. If you think about it in this context it might bother you as it bothers me. The Mayor just should not have accepted it.
john Crivellone May 09, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I guess I always knew that Oak lawn could never do a project as important as the Advocate expansion. Once again we have made more enemies as the President of Advocate is now unhappy. That will almost assure that he will think twice before he commits to another large scale project as important as this one. This is the boldest and most innovative project that I have seen come to Oak lawn. Oak Lawn has been underrated for ever. Poor leadership and lack of any initiative have kept us in the shadows long enough. Oak lawn has so much potential. It is in an excellent strategic geographic location and has an educated and hard working labor force. All around us dramatic change is happening, faster than at any time in the past, in our personal lives and in the local political and economic environment. These changes will dictate who we are as a community. The challenge is not to passively adapt, we will do that whether we like it or not. The challenge is do we understand the changes that are coming. We who care about Oak Lawn better wise up fast and reach and embrace projects like these or we will be left on the side lines. I want to see more projects just like these, but bolder, bigger and much more innovative. Opportunities like these and a rethinking and radical changes in our business community must occur if Oak Lawn is to move forward and prosper. I just wish that for once we could have gotten it right!!
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) May 09, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Here is the recap of Monday's PD&C meeting. http://patch.com/A-tghb
andy skoundrianos May 09, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Keep telling like it is Sandy, John a cheap shot to you may be the truth to others. You and the Mayor seem to be the only ones bending over backwards to appease Advocate. You have every right to your opinion,but I think you are in the minority on this issue.
andy skoundrianos May 09, 2012 at 04:18 AM
John, I think the comment of making the Advocate president mad at the village is a little out of line. Do the residents work for Advocate?? Do we elect the President of Advocate?? There is nothing wrong with taking the time to make sure everything is right and have plenty of resident input on this project. You do remember when the coalition party rammed through every project with out any public input and you see how that turned out!! The pd&c didn't reject the plans they just want more time. Advocate is not going anywhere.
andy skoundrianos May 09, 2012 at 04:22 AM
John,you certainly are more involved in village politics than just the perimeter. That's like myself saying I don't have a vested interest in the 2013 village elections!!!
OakLawnGuy May 09, 2012 at 12:17 PM
While I believe that an Advocate expansion will contribute to Village coffers in an ancillary fashion (more employees spending more money in town, through retail sales and property ownership), it's become clear that they want a handout. It's not necessarily a bad thing to make a business owner "mad" at your local government; it shows you're not willing to do everything to make them happy, including accommodating them at your own loss. I'll toss this in too: I'm disappointed that the PDC meeting and this issue became so political. Politics has no place in this Committee, it should be strictly business. I'm not naive enough to think the PDC if free of gamesmanship, but this issue is not political. At least not until it gets to the Board for approval. Who showed up at the meeting, who didn't show up, who is in Advocate's pocket, who isn't...it's irrelevant.
OakLawnGuy May 09, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Let me rephrase myself: they want something for nothing, not a "handout".

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