After months of contentious and combative discussion, the Campton Hills plan commission Monday night indicated support for a controversial drug treatment center planned for a former 120-acre former boys school.
Plan commissioner Stephany Impson said residents are in more danger of drunken and drugged drivers on village roads than an addict breaking into nearby homes.
"I don't think we can hide our heads in the sand and say, 'We're OK, we're in Campton Hills and nothing is happening here,'" she said. "It's an epidemic and we can't say, 'Oh, we can't have that (center) here.' I think it's important to help people."
None of the six commissioners present voiced opposition to the plan.
The commissioners went late into the night discussing numerous conditions for the Kiva Recovery Center to follow before taking a formal vote. Some conditions included doing background checks on people treated at the center, preserving wetlands and having the village conduct its own economic analysis.
Kiva representatives have said the 96-bed facility would be high-end in terms of care and cost, with a 30-day stay running $30,000. They have portrayed the center as a facility to treat recovering professionals, but have acknowledged it could treat meth and heroin addicts who would be detoxed elsewhere.
Residents have fought the proposal, saying it would pose a safety risk, burden ambulance service, hurt property values and damage the village's image.
"Kiva will not win in court. It's nothing but an empty scare tactic," said resident Abe Andrejewski, who urged the commission to deny the plan or take a neutral stance and recommend that the village board put the matter up for an advisory referendum.
Residents spent three hours questioning the impartiality and validity of a consultant hired by Kiva for $15,000 to conduct a study on whether drug treatment centers negatively affect the property values of nearby homes.
They said using homes near treatment centers in Rockford and Lemont was comparing apples to oranges because residents in Campton Hills moved to the area for the rural lifestyle.
But Peter Poletti Jr., a certified real estate appraiser who prepared the report, suggested that once negative publicity about Kiva died down, home values would not be hurt.
The meeting attracted a standing-room-only crowd of at least 400 people in the gym of the Glenwood Boys School, 41W400 Silver Glen Road.
Random shouting, groans, sarcastic agreement, applause and outbursts were frequent.
The commission makes recommendations to the village board, which has the final say on the matter.