ST. CHARLES – After almost 3 1/2 hours of testimony Aug. 1, the Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals continued a public hearing on a special-use permit for a drug and alcohol treatment center at a former boys’ school to Aug. 7.
About 150 people packed the hearing at Kane County Branch Court in St. Charles to object – for the third time – to Maxxam Partners and Glenwood Academy putting a $1,000-a-day, 120-bed luxury addiction treatment center near Campton Hills.
The 120-acre parcel is at 41W400 Silver Glen Road, Campton Township. Maxxam Partners proposes to retool the former Glenwood School for Boys as an addiction treatment center.
The original petition was rejected twice by previous zoning boards and the Kane County Board, and many of the same objectors returned to raise the same objections, with one referencing it felt like a scene from the film “Groundhog Day.”
Maxxam is suing the county in federal court, alleging that the denials amounted to discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act. People suffering from addictions are considered disabled under the ADA.
Maxxam’s attorneys refiled the zoning petition for a special use and included a proposed federal consent decree in which Maxxam would get its special use zoning in exchane for dropping the lawsuit.
At the new hearing, Maxxam attorney Caesar Tabet said the provisions in the proposed federal consent decree “are specifically designed to ensure and protect the public, health, welfare and safety of all members of the community.”
Tabet said all the conditions set out in the proposed consent decree would be enforceable by federal court order.
“If any of the conditions that are set forth in the consent decree at any time are inconsistent or violate the terms of any Kane County zoning ordinance, that provision will be null and void,” Tabet said.
Tabet said one of the objections raised in earlier hearings was that many of the conditions would be unenforceable.
“Maxxam’s obligations are enforceable,” Tabet said. “This consent decree answers those concerns with a quick, immediate and powerful remedy by federal court enforcement.”
But local government representatives and residents who live near the proposed treatment center were not any more receptive to this version of the zoning request – even with its proposed consent decree’s protections – than in previous hearings.
Attorney Tracy Kasson, representing immediate neighbors to the proposed site, said the petition still does not satisfy the requirements of the special use.
“If nothing has changed, then the ZBA should deny the petition again because the applicant has failed to meet the six special use standards in the zoning ordinance, just like you found previously,” Kasson said. “… Nothing in the consent decree says it is going to be 120 patients.”
Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District attorney Kenneth Shepro injected a little bit of humor into the proceedings when he pulled a small stuffed animal – a groundhog – out of a gift bag and set it on the podium.
It was a comparison of the Maxxam zoning hearings to the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” where the main character relives the same day over and over.
“I could not help but feel this groundhog would be appropriate for these proceedings,” Shepro said. “As at the previous hearing, we are an objector.”
Shepro said the fire district worked out a benefit agreement with Maxxam Partners to help the district with anticipated expenses of transporting its clients to the hospital.
Shepro said the agreement did not expire as was stated in Maxxam’s complaint.
“Our agreement – as we read the complaint and as we read the consent decree – has been torn up by Maxxam in another example of what we believe is bad faith that has characterized by this applicant from the beginning,” Shepro said.
“There has not even been any testimony presented as to why the consent decree should change the decision that this board previously made,” Shepro added. “I certainly don’t think the comments of counsel constitute testimony.”
Fire District board President Robert Hanley testified that the district’s financial situation has deteriorated and if it is required to provide service to an addiction treatment center, it might not be able to provide service to other residents in the fire district.
Campton Hills Village Trustee Michael Tyrrell, a member of an environmental advocacy group, E3 Inc., told the ZBA that the slow rate land application system to treat sewage cannot treat the pharmaceuticals in normal biological human waste and presents a threat to health and public safety.
“This is a case where pharmaceuticals pass through the human body, they are not processed through the water treatment plant, they are sprayed on the land and they wind up in the groundwater,” Tyrrell said. “It’s a fact.”
Campton Hills resident Van Richards urged the zoning board not to recommend approval of the special use request.
“If you consent to this, you are putting the community at risk,” Richards said.