Wheaton council poised to reject drug treatment center plans

 
 
Updated 2/7/2018 8:12 AM
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  • Wheaton City Council members are expected to deny a request by Haymarket Center to open a program for patients recovering from drug and alcohol addiction in a vacant Wheaton building, left, at 140 E. Loop Road.

      Wheaton City Council members are expected to deny a request by Haymarket Center to open a program for patients recovering from drug and alcohol addiction in a vacant Wheaton building, left, at 140 E. Loop Road. Mark Black | Staff Photographer, January 2018

  • Some Wheaton residents say a drug treatment facility doesn't belong in this vacant building near a kid-friendly Danada shopping district

      Some Wheaton residents say a drug treatment facility doesn't belong in this vacant building near a kid-friendly Danada shopping district Mark Black | Staff Photographer, January 2018

Wheaton City Council members are on the verge of rejecting plans by a Chicago addiction treatment center to open a controversial facility in one of the city's busiest shopping districts.

Haymarket Center is seeking a zoning text amendment to allow the nonprofit group to provide a residential inpatient program as one component of its operations in a former medical office building on a site next to a day-care center and just north of the Danada shopping center.

Many neighbors and their attorneys voiced strong opposition to the proposed center during marathon city meetings on the request. City officials also received hundreds of emails and letters from residents worried about crime, loitering, property values and the center's proximity to a kid-friendly area.

But council members are framing their rejection of the plan largely as a zoning concern. Members on Monday directed the city's attorney to prepare an ordinance denying Haymarket's request that will come before the council again on Feb. 20.

The nonprofit group proposed an amendment to the zoning code to add residential treatment facilities as a special use in a commercial zoning district that contains Danada shops and restaurants and other areas in the city.

Councilman John Prendiville said such a residential use is incompatible "with the philosophy underpinning the establishment of these commercial districts."

Councilman Todd Scalzo agreed.

"I do think that this is a fundamental departure from the character of the C5 district, and I'm also looking at all the districts across the city and I'm also looking for years down the road knowing what we do today will affect policy for years to come," he said.

Scalzo also expressed disappointment over some of the opposition to the project, noting "a lot of accusations, a lot of attacks and conjecture about how the city council operates."

"There shouldn't be any cheering one way or another," he said. "This is a societal challenge. This problem (drug abuse) is in our neighborhood and among us, and I think people should stop talking so much about their rights and what they're entitled to and (instead) what their obligations are toward their neighbor, toward their own family.

"I heard a lot of people talking about their children. Every patient that's seeking treatment is somebody's child, and heaven forbid it should be any of our children, we would probably change our positions in a second."

Haymarket officials said the center is intended to serve DuPage residents who are 18 and older as the region faces a rising death toll from opioid overdoses. Last year, the DuPage County recorded 95 confirmed opioid-related deaths, up from 33 in 2014, according to the coroner's office.

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