After decree on drug treatment facility, Kane County residents ask, 'What now?'
The third attempt to bring a new addiction treatment facility to Kane County began Wednesday night in much the same way as the first two attempts, except for a new element of uncertainty.
No one in the room -- except the representatives for Maxxam Partners LLC, the entity seeking to open the facility -- wanted to see it move forward. Much of the zoning board hearing focused on what the impact of the consent decree between Maxxam and Kane County has on the proceedings.
The agreement between Maxxam and Kane County invalidates all votes denying the project to this point and lists provisions and conditions that a federal judge signed off on and that would pave the way for the opening of the facility.
In the perspective of Maxxam attorney Caesar Tabet, the consent decree provides both assurances of the facility being a boon to the community and prompt legal remedies through a federal court if it doesn't.
"The purpose (of the decree) is intended to ensure that the operation of the approved special use is beneficial to and does not negatively impact the health, safety and welfare of Kane County residents," Tabet said.
Opponents of the project didn't buy that argument. If anything, they argued, the consent decree muddles public knowledge of what the treatment facility will include.
Tracy Kasson, an attorney for neighboring property owners, said Maxxam should either describe the beneficial changes to its plan in detail or the plan should be rejected because nothing has changed since the prior two rejections of the plan.
Kasson said Maxxam pitched a 120-bed facility. But the consent decree is mum about any restrictions on how many patients the facility can serve. By his own calculations, there is now a potential for up to 261 beds, he said.
No one from Maxxam either challenged or confirmed that assertion.
The other main concern raised came from the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District.
Ken Shepro, the district's attorney, said Maxxam's statement that the consent decree supersedes all previous agreements seems to indicate the deal struck between Maxxam and the fire district is void. Shepro disagreed that the former deal is invalid.
But if there now is no direct deal with the fire district, fire officials said the demands created by a potentially larger Maxxam facility would so exasperate the district's financial woes that it could not adequately serve either Maxxam's patients or the other residents of the district.
"Bad faith has characterized this application from the beginning," Shepro said. "I don't know how you can go forward when there is no new evidence. There has not even been any testimony presented on why the consent decree should change the decision that this board has previously made. The county and the applicants have apparently cut a deal. We were not part of that deal."
The county's zoning board is charged with making a recommendation on the application to the full Kane County Board, which will make the ultimate decision on the project as soon as next month.