Drug treatment facility lawsuit accuses Kane County of discrimination
The developers of a would-be drug addiction treatment facility near Campton Hills threatened to sue Kane County officials if they denied plans for the campus. County board members rejected the Maxxam project in May. And now the developers have made good on the legal threat with a federal lawsuit.
If successful, the lawsuit may result in the facility, known as Remedies Chicago, moving forward without the county's input as well as a $68 million legal liability for the county.
The lawsuit accuses county officials of violating the federal Fair Housing Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit also details at least three meetings with county board Chairman Chris Lauzen and the county's lawyers outside the public vetting process.
At those meetings, the lawsuit claims, county officials fretted about being in violation of federal laws and sought to cut deals that would win approval for the project. There was also a confidential meeting involving Lauzen, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon and the proposed CEO of the facility. The lawsuit does not detail the purpose of that meeting.
Officials at the Kane County state's attorney's office said they would not comment on the pending litigation.
The county board voted 14-9 against the project. The lawsuit calls out the county's zoning board of appeals, members of the public at those meetings and Lauzen for making "discriminatory" comments leading to the final "no" vote.
Such comments include a variety of not-in-my-backyard sentiments, critical views about people dealing with addiction, and even concerns about Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen being potential patients. The lawsuit highlights the final speech Lauzen made before the county board cast its final vote on the project.
"Immediately prior to the county boards vote, Chairman Lauzen confirmed that he and other county board members would vote against the application simply to appease their constituents," the lawsuit states. "Lauzen also threatened to retaliate against county board members who voted in favor of plaintiff's application. No evidence was presented or discussed as to why the application with the conditions did not satisfy the ordinance's requirements or the unjustified and discriminatory concerns of the county board and Kane County residents."
The lawsuit asks for a legal injunction forcing the project forward as well as monetary damages for Maxxam. Actual costs and lost profits are the basis for the potential monetary damages.
The lawsuit says Maxxam agreed to buy the property from the former Glenwood Academy for $9.5 million. Glenwood has increased that price to $10.9 million and demanded Maxxam pay $10,000 per month, on a nonrefundable basis, toward the sale.