Proposed drug treatment center near Campton Hills rejected again

Updated 2/16/2016 6:10 PM

A request to open a 120-bed drug and alcohol treatment center near Campton Hills ran in to more opposition Tuesday.

The Kane County Development Committee recommended rejecting -- in a 7-0 vote -- the proposal to turn the former Glenwood School on Silver Glen Road into a facility that would treat people for addictions to alcohol and some drugs, and also for eating disorders.


It came after nearly three hours of comments from the company that wants to open the place, and of nearby residents opposed. Only two residents spoke in favor.

The measure passes now to the county board, which meets again March 8.

"What this is about is that we do not let an easy out for Glenwood at the expense of the residents," Campton Hills resident Robert Wagner told the committee. He questioned whether the county should ever have let Glenwood build a campus in the first place, in the early 1990s, on land legally designated for farming. Glenwood still owns the campus. Substance abuse treatment is not on the list of special uses permitted on farmland.

The boarding school closed in 2012.

Maxxam tried in 2013 to get the village of Campton Hills to annex the site and let it open the center.

"This is a zoning issue. We all have great respect for people who are in recovery and are looking for a successful future," said county board member Barb Wojnicki, who represents the area where the property is.

Maxxam LLC's application said it would be a "high-end" facility and that it would not accept Medicaid or Medicare payments. The property would return to the property tax rolls, generating about $337,000 in taxes, the company estimated.

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Critics said it would strain emergency services. They feared there could be several hundred ambulance and police calls there each year, based on information they acquired from similar treatment centers elsewhere, especially since it would offer detoxification.

Maxxam officials said, however, that the Campton Hills police chief had estimated in 2013 that there would be maybe five calls a year.

The discrepancy bothered committee member John Martin of Geneva.

"My problem is that the presentation by the petitioner ends up being speculative, because they don't have another operation. They have statistics generic to the industry. ... Are there going to be 300 ambulance trips a year, or are there going to be five?"

Former Kane County chief judge F. Keith Brown, an attorney for Maxxam, reiterated the firm's position that refusing to allow the center could be seen as violating the federal Fair Housing Act, which protects people with disabilities from housing discrimination. Courts have ruled that people with addictions are disabled, he said.

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