Kane County Board again rejects drug treatment facility; developers promise lawsuit
In a repeat of a vote from one year ago, Kane County officials on Tuesday rejected plans for a drug treatment facility near Campton Hills.
Project developers vowed to pursue a $68 million federal lawsuit to force the opening of the facility.
County board members voted 14-9 to deny the 120-bed, private drug and alcohol treatment center proposed by Maxxam Partners LLC nearly two years ago.
As with all votes and public hearings on the project, neighbors near the site on Silver Glen Road bombarded the board with pleas to spike the plan. They cited fears about a loss of property value, an inability to address the facility's emergency response needs, and a sense that a high-end facility would serve few local residents.
One key event in Tuesday's debate leading to the final vote was a statement from Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District President Bob Handley. He said Maxxam fulfilled every request the fire district made, but he had nagging concerns.
"We still are very concerned about how it will impact our ability to serve the rest of the district," Handley said. "We don't wholeheartedly support this project."
Edward Fiala, a fire district taxpayer, put his safety concerns more bluntly.
"We have one broken ambulance and one borrowed ambulance," Fiala said. "There simply isn't any capacity to serve a Maxxam-type facility without creating even more risk to our residents. If you approve this, you will be killing people. A 'yes' vote would be trading the welfare of my loved ones for the welfare of someone's for-profit business."
The comments were key because not endangering "the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare" of the affected community is a requirement for approving the Maxxam project.
In remarks just before the final vote, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen made it clear he did not believe Maxxam met the requirements. Lauzen said he didn't trust the Maxxam team. He pointed to one public hearing where Steven Marco, Maxxam's managing director, gave more than 100 "no comment" responses to questions.
"One of the things that has distressed me the most is the lack of truthfulness in answering questions and the cooperation with the people who are asking those questions," Lauzen said. "You must insist in a public partner that someone is going to tell you the truth when doing business with you."
Lauzen also pointed to calls to reject the plan from nearly every resident near the proposed site and every elected official and government agency serving the location.
"It would be extreme self-confidence, bordering on hubris, that you know better than these people who will be affected," he said.
The final vote reflected nine "yes" votes, which is only three more than when the county board rejected the Maxxam plan in March 2016.
Andrew Kolb, an attorney for Maxxam, said the team will file a federal lawsuit seeking $68 million from the county and a judicial override of the decision to allow the project to move ahead.
Kolb said there are clear grounds to file a discrimination claim under federal fair housing laws. The law requires governments to make reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. People with addictions are considered disabled under the law.
"Comments made during the original zoning board hearings alone are enough to support the lawsuit," he said. "I'm just floored that (the county board) made that decision today. We will move forward with a lawsuit now. We're not just looking for money. We want to open this facility to help people with drug and alcohol addictions."