Improvements to the sports facilities at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, including the addition of three tennis courts, are now in place despite objections from some neighbors concerned about the potential for noise and falling property values.
Last month, Lake Forest City Council unanimously approved an application to amend the existing Woodlands Special Use Permit for the property and allow the construction of three new tennis courts with the relocation of two existing courts. All lots will be placed at least 25 feet from the school property line.
The approval comes with a series of conditions, including the installation of a seven-foot wooden fence on the property for screening, a maximum of 22 parking spaces and that the city will inspect the new landscaping. twice a year for three years after planting.
Also under the plan will be paving of the existing gravel parking lot, reconfiguration of an existing driveway to allow for vehicle rotation, updates to stormwater management, replacement of existing exterior lights and limitations on the use of tennis courts.
The goal is to improve athletics in girls’ high school.
“We have to be very competitive as a school to attract this kind of talent,” former Woodlands board chairman Ralph Elwart told the council. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re trying to modernize our sports facilities all around.”
The proposal reached the city council after receiving a recommendation on a 5-2 vote from the zoning appeals board in April, after lengthy deliberations in two meetings, according to village documents.
However, some of the neighbours, particularly in the Northmoor area of the town, have raised objections.
“It doesn’t have to happen here. They have a lot of properties,” said neighbor Kari Johnston.
“There would be an inevitable drop in property value as some buyers might simply not offer a house with tennis courts in the backyard and, if they do, they might offer a lower price,” added Carol Sorensen.
City council members acknowledged neighbors’ concerns, with some saying there was no “perfect solution” to the situation. However, they all eventually voted for the project.
“I’m confident that this process has been well executed, and this project will be done with respect for neighbors, and there will be a two-way dialogue for any screening or noise issues that may arise,” said City Councilor Jim Preschlack. of the third quarter.
“In order to survive in this competitive environment, these schools must have sports facilities that meet their needs,” added Melanie Rummel, Alderman for the Second Ward.
City officials noted that all special use permits may be reviewed in the future if issues arise.
“If any part of this turns out not to work, it will definitely get our attention,” Mayor George Pandaleon said.
Woodlands covers approximately 41 acres and is located at 760 E. Westleigh Road.
After the meeting, a Woodlands spokesperson said he was unsure when construction would begin.