The Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday announced its decision that Broadway Youth Center can stay in its current location at Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, 615 W. Wellington Ave.
The ruling, granting a variance to BYC, comes with provisions. The decision mentions that BYC must clearly post contact information and operating hours, and that it is only applicable through March 31, 2015, which is the end of BYC's current lease period. At that point, BYC must make its case again before the Zoning Board. While only three stipulations are mentioned in the initial decision, Bennett Lawson, chief of staff for Ald. Tom Tunney, confirmed that BYC was subject to all the tenets of the Good Neighbor Agreement that Tunney finalized with BYC and Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC), which oversees BYC's operations, last week. A more comprehensive decision will be issued by the Board within 30 days, Lawson added.
The ruling also follows many months of strained interactions between BYC and South East Lake View Neighbors, who voted 41-21 not to back the variance at their Jan. 13 meeting. The organization had initially taken part in the Good Neighbor Agreement process but withdrew their support, saying that the resulting document would bear no legal weight. At SELVN meetings, residents living close to BYC complained of noise, loitering and drug use by the Center's clients.
Michelle Wetzel, general counsel for HBHC, said, "We're very pleased at the result. It was a tough process, especially with what happened with SELVN. We're also pleased that this phase is over and we can get back to the business of serving our youth."
She added that BYC would was expecting some trial and error in the upcoming weeks in developing a workable plan for security.
"We want to do what's right for our clients, our staff and the neighborhood," Wetzel said. "We want to find the right balance."