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Aurora council gets an earful over clinic
Planned Parenthood protesters fill chambers
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/29/2007 12:18 AM | Updated: 8/29/2007 6:32 AM

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Planned Parenthood snuck into Aurora by lying to city officials and neighbors about who it was, residents told aldermen Tuesday.

More than a hundred clinic protesters packed council chambers, urging officials to prevent its opening until an independent investigation is complete. Only two women spoke in support of Planned Parenthood.

Also on Tuesday, the mayor's office announced it has hired an outside consultant to review the development process of the east-side clinic.

Most cases are handled by the city, city leaders said, but given the concern the issue has raised, a review will be done.

The Planned Parenthood facility, 3051 E. New York St., is believed to be the largest clinic of its kind in the nation. It will offer various services, including abortions. The center has received its temporary occupancy permit and is set to open Sept. 18.

More than 120 people had signed up to speak Tuesday. Aldermen initially considered ending the hearing at a certain time, ultimately voting against it.

Public comment began about 7:45 p.m., with the room so packed that people stood in the hallways. The hearing was still going on at 11 p.m.

Residents criticized Planned Parenthood for coming to town under false pretenses. In permit applications, the development was listed as Gemini Development Corp., a subsidiary of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood officials have maintained they followed proper development guidelines.

If the clinic was wanted, it wouldn't have to be sneaky, residents said.

"You should be angry ... by the fact that you've been duped," the Rev. Martin Heinz of Holy Angels Church told aldermen. "You've been lied to."

Aurora Pastor Mark Smith said residents should have gotten the chance to debate the issue before the process was complete.

"We could not debate these issues because they were not brought forward," he said.

Aurora attorney Vince Tessitore gave aldermen copies of meeting minutes and permit applications listing Gemini Development Corp. These show clear fraud, he said.

Bonnie Grabenhofer, president of Illinois National Organization for Women, called the protesters "the extremists" and said they are wasting city resources with their ongoing protests.

Now they are wasting more city funds by filing a lawsuit alleging police harassment and forcing an independent review, she said, calling it "an outrage," she said.

Protesters filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the city, alleging the group has "suffered a barrage of conflicting directions, restrictions and harassment from Aurora's police officers." Police deny they harassed the protesters.

Residents said the clinic will devalue their home properties and hurt local business and the city's image.

Bob Hart of Naperville urged residents to get to their knees and pray, which most people did. He prayed for God to "soften the hearts" of city leaders and to "give them your spirit."