GENEVA – As the Kane County Board on Tuesday prepared to act on a request regarding a proposed drug and alcohol treatment center near Campton Hills, attorney Keith Brown gave an impassioned plea for the members to consider the evidence with a critical eye.
“[We] need this facility to help people who have disabilities,” Brown said, raising his voice. “This is a civil rights case.”
Brown’s client, Maxxam Partners LLC, sought a special-use permit from the county to transform the former Glenwood School for Boys and Girls property into a state-of-the-art, 120-bed, private pay, luxury treatment center.
He had warned that the federal Fair Housing Act applies to the facility, as people with alcohol and drug addiction are considered disabled.
After more than two hours of discussion and public comment, the County Board upheld recommendations from the Zoning Board of Appeals and the County Development Committee and denied the request, 15-6, with one abstention and one member voting “present.”
Echoing what others said during public comment, board member Barb Wojnicki acknowledged alcoholism and substance abuse are widespread issues but said the Silver Glen Road property “is not the proper place for this type of facility.”
Others who voted against the special-use permit were Deborah Allan, Brian Dahl, Mark Davoust, Drew Frasz, Becky Gillam, Joseph Haimann, Mike Kenyon, Kurt Kojzarek, Phil Lewis, John Martin, Brian Pollock, T.R. Smith, Susan Starrett and Maria Vazquez.
Board member Maggie Auger, who supported the facility, cited the tax dollars and jobs the treatment center would bring to the county.
Frasz noted Maxxam’s request was also opposed by four governmental entities, including the village of Campton Hills and Campton Township, and the forest preserve district purchase land around the property knowing it was a school.
Throughout the approval process, county officials heard from residents worried about the treatment center’s effect on their property values and quality of life.
Opponents were also concerned about the distance between the Glenwood property and the nearest hospital and said the nearby two-lane roads are unsuited for the emergency traffic the treatment facility could generate.
“We don’t have the community services in our area to handle what their needs might be,” Pat Hartmann said during public comment.
Maxxam did, however, have its supporters. Several identified themselves as recovering alcoholics or addicts who benefited from services Maxxam planned to provide.
“What does matter is that people can and do get better,” said Scott Burgess, who identified himself as a recovering alcoholic. “I’m proof of that.”