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Article updated: 11/15/2012 10:14 AM

Foes want vote on proposed Campton Hills rehab center

By Harry Hitzeman

A 96-bed drug treatment center proposed for Campton Hills gained a key recommendation from the plan commission last week, but people opposing the facility are not giving up.

Village trustees will meet Tuesday to discuss setting a future date to consider the Kiva Recovery Center, which is proposed for the 120-acre site formerly home to the Glenwood School for Boys on Silver Glen Road.

Village President Patsy Smith said Nov. 27 is a possibility for the Kiva meeting, but a decision will be made next week.

Kiva opponents want the village board to put the matter to a villagewide vote via a ballot question, or referendum, in April.

"It was a disappointing night," said resident Abe Andrzejewski of the Campton Hills Plan Commission's unanimous recommendation last week. "I felt, as did many members of the audience, that the decision was made months ago. We're going to ask the board of trustees to put the vote to a referendum because it's something that we're going to have to deal with for the next 50 to 100 years."

Asking residents their opinions is not unprecedented. Last week's Election Day ballot included two advisory questions asking residents if they support video gambling and whether they endorse a plan to pay a fee on natural gas bills to fund a series of emergency warning sirens throughout the village.

The village board previously banned video gambling but put it on the ballot after a local pub expressed interest in it; residents voted no on both measures.

Other residents at last week's marathon plan commission meeting also favored a vote put to all.

"There's no positive aspects to this (plan)," resident Joe Miller told the plan commission, whose members are appointed volunteers. "I believe we all should vote, not just you people."

The seven-member village board must approve the Kiva plan with at least five votes. That means if three trustees oppose it, the plan is rejected.

Kiva representatives have portrayed the treatment center as a high-end, private facility for recovering professionals that would cost $30,000 for a 30-day stay. Officials have said clients would detox at a different facility, but acknowledged that some addicts could be treated there as well.

Residents fear the center would burden the village's fire and ambulance services, depress home values and harm the village's image.

Kiva officials presented a $15,000 study that concluded property values would not suffer because of the treatment center, but residents questioned its validity because the study looked at homes in Rockford and Lemont. Kiva officials said those home were studied because they were close to drug treatment facilities.

Dr. Sheldon Greenberg, a noted Chicago addiction expert who serves on the state's Medicare fraud panel, spoke in favor of Kiva's operating team, saying their methods of holistic care are proven, and clients and their families are paying top dollar because they want help.

"It's a solid plan," he said. "These are patients who are committed to their recovery."

Patrick Griffin, an attorney representing the Kiva team, did not return phone messages this week.

The plan commission considered the Kiva plan during a public hearing session that was continued over several months. Last week's meeting drew a standing-room-only crowd that frequently jeered, shouted and interrupted speakers, and peppered the room with sarcastic outbursts.

Several plan commission members said they were disappointed in the lack of civility, and the "bullying" from residents opposed to Kiva.

"I'm very disappointed in the crowds that have been here and their behavior," said plan commission member Jay Richardson, who noted Kiva officials have responded to residents' concerns, and there's really no other use for the sprawling former school surrounded by a forest preserve.

"What else are you going to use this (site) for?" Richardson said. "It's not like you could take this (school) down and turn it back into farmland. I'm not so sure there's a farmer here what would pay $8 million for it."

The village board meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Campton Township Community Center, 5N082 Old La Fox Road.

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