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Bullying In Wealthy Clarendon Hills Neighborhood – Patch.com

Bullying In Wealthy Clarendon Hills Neighborhood – Patch.com

CLARENDON HILLS, IL — The owners of a Clarendon Hills house are defending themselves against neighbors’ criticism of their plans to rent to a sober living organization. One of them said the neighbors should know better than to take part in “bullying” and “malicious lies.” In a Feb. 5 statement, the Clarendon Hills village government

CLARENDON HILLS, IL — The owners of a Clarendon Hills house are defending themselves against neighbors’ criticism of their plans to rent to a sober living organization. One of them said the neighbors should know better than to take part in “bullying” and “malicious lies.”

In a Feb. 5 statement, the Clarendon Hills village government released a statement about the plan for the group home at 359 Ruby St. It said the village had just been made aware of an advertisement for a house manager for up to 10 residents in the home.

But the owners, Kelly and Michael Seehausen, said they communicated with the village from Day 1 in early November about the plan to rent to Trinity Sober Living. The organization plans to house women with addictions.

In an email to Patch, Kelly Seehausen said they alerted Village President Len Austin within 24 hours of learning that their real estate agent’s client was Trinity. She said at Austin’s suggestion, they met with the village manager and the community development director to get their clear direction on the next steps.

In an interview Tuesday, Village Manager Kevin Barr confirmed the Seehausens had contacted Austin about the issue months ago. He said the Seehausens then contacted him.

“There was a relatively short conversation,” Barr said. “We talked to them about the village zoning code.”

In an email, Michael Seehausen said the village’s statement was possibly a way to get rid of “pesky callers” and “shut down rambling complaints.” He said their communications with the village are well documented.

Kelly Seehausen said they have seen recordings of their neighbors driving up the driveway to the door and peering into the house’s windows.

“We inadvertently discovered neighbors are circulating misinformation and acting out against us based on it,” she said. “We needed a few solid days to process what went down with our neighbors before we felt we could even reach out to them, upon learning they are making bold incorrect statements about us to others, and publicly, as though these are fact. They should have simply come to us. Nobody asked us.”

Kelly Seehausen said their renters have privacy and that because they have not moved in yet, it was not the owners’ place to prematurely announce their arrival to neighbors.

“We were never hiding anything from anyone. What we were doing was being respectful of our tenants’ rights just as we are supposed to do until they decide to introduce themselves or ask us to introduce them to friendly neighbors,” Kelly Seehausen said. “We had told the folks at Trinity the neighbors on Ruby Street are such great people. What matters, is that we did of course introduce our tenants to the Village immediately and that we, and Trinity, are both following all rules pertaining to their occupancy.”

She said it was illegal to discriminate against a group home such as Trinity. Last fall, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Hinsdale over its unsuccessful efforts to close Trinity’s group home for men.

Beyond the legalities, Kelly Seehausen said, her family sees such discrimination as unethical.

“We are parents of four children, and we are not willing to send a message to our children that this kind or any other discrimination would be acceptable. That is not the kind of people we are and our children know better,” Kelly Seehausen said.

As for neighbors who say they should have already filed for a conditional use permit, she said, “nobody lives in the house yet and no one needs to file anything at all for high occupancy accommodation if they don’t even have any residents.”

The lease, she said, mandates that Trinity following village zoning laws. She also said the people in the house will not be poor. Ruby Street is part of a wealthy neighborhood, with the house in question listed for a time last year at nearly $1.9 million.

The neighbors, she said, know better than to act as they have been.

“No form of trying to force them out of the neighborhood, or bullying us as property owners, or name-calling or malicious lies about our family that have been told, or bribery, is the right thing to do and those neighbors behaving this way know better,” Kelly Seehausen said.

In the Feb. 5 statement, the village said it had received an “unprecedented” number of calls about the plan for the group home.

It said it ordered the homeowners to stop work on the house the previous day, so the village could determine whether the project required a building permit. It said it found such a permit was needed.

Michael Seehausen said that when they repainted the house for the new tenants, they decided it was a good time to also finish the basement by framing the walls.

“I took an opportunity to use these contractors while I could get them, knowing they are difficult to schedule during Covid,” he said. “I take full ownership of this and the Village is, obviously, now fully aware. The basement is something we’ve been wanting and waiting to get underway for a long time, no matter if it can be for ourselves, for any future renter, or if we put our house on the market.”

He said that once the permit is approved, the basement work can continue.

In Hinsdale, the village said the sober house violated its rule for single-family zones — no more than three unrelated people in a house. The federal government maintains such a violation would essentially ban all group homes for people with disabilities.

In its fight in DuPage County Court, Hinsdale contended a group home is a commercial operation that violates single-family residential zoning. However, Hinsdale abandoned that argument shortly before federal prosecutors sued, according to the Department of Justice’s lawsuit.

Hinsdale denies it violated anyone’s Fair House Act rights. In late January, it responded to the federal lawsuit.

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