School gets OK to build by airport

The Wheeling Village Board has voted to issue a building permit that would allow construction of a Montessori school. The school has been at the center of a controversy that forced officials of Chicago Executive Airport to consider closing a runway or face the loss of federal funds.

The building permit was approved this week after Alexander Graham Bell Montessori School agreed to revise the site plans for its project to resolve objections raised by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The decision by the village to issue a permit will not stop the school from pursuing its claims for compensation from Wheeling, said officials on both sides. The school, now in Prospect Heights, had sued the village, seeking to force issuance of the permit and claiming more than $500,000 in extra costs and losses because of delays by the village.

"They're not jeopardizing any claims," Village Manager J. Mark Rooney said at the end of a board meeting Monday. But he said he has not received detailed documentation from the school to support its claims.

Sandra Mosetick, president of the not-for-profit school's board, said the claims include interest expense as a result of the delay, increased construction costs and the value of a parking lot that cannot be used.

Wheeling gave preliminary approval last July to the project at 9300 Capitol Drive. But the school's original site plan put a portion of its parking lot and a light pole in an area west of the airport's runway 6-24 that the FAA wanted kept free of obstacles. The FAA dropped its objections last month after the school submitted a revised plan.

Officials at the airport, formerly Palwaukee Municipal, had considered closing the runway, but were met with objections from pilots of smaller planes.

School officials told Wheeling trustees they will submit final drawings this week. A permit will be issued about a week after that, said Daniel Ozanich, the village's director of community development.

"That timetable is agreeable to us," Mosetick told trustees.


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