Wheaton council denies plans for addiction treatment center
Wheaton City Council members have rejected a bid by a Chicago nonprofit group to open an addiction treatment center that faced stiff resistance from neighbors.
In a 4-0 vote Tuesday night, the council denied a proposed zoning text amendment that would have allowed Haymarket Center to include a 16-bed residential inpatient unit as part of its operations in a former medical office building that sits in a busy shopping district.
Neighbors flooded city hall with hundreds of letters and emails objecting to the location of Haymarket DuPage in a busy shopping district. The project's foes also packed city meetings in recent months to voice fears about crime, loitering, property values and the proximity of the facility next to a day-care center.
Earlier this month, council members indicated they would nix Haymarket's request, framing their rejection of the plan largely as a zoning concern.
Only a handful of residents showed up Tuesday when council members made it official. Members made no comment before denying the request, but Mayor Michael Gresk pointed to the concerns they raised during a meeting Feb. 5.
Haymarket 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, who was absent from Tuesday's vote, has said such a residential use is incompatible "with the philosophy underpinning the establishment of these commercial districts."
Mary Dickson, a Wheaton attorney representing Haymarket, declined to comment Tuesday night about the failed proposal.
After council members indicated their opposition to the embattled project, Dr. Dan Lustig, the nonprofit's president and CEO, released a statement on the Facebook page for Haymarket DuPage, defending the proposed center that was designed to "provide comprehensive care that residents deserve in their own community."
Lustig cautioned that many of those revived by overdose-withdrawal drugs would overdose again without "accessible, comprehensive behavioral health care, including medication-assisted treatment and counseling."
"We have heard the concerns of residents but respectfully disagree with their fears about Haymarket Center DuPage patients," Lustig wrote. "The people affected by substance use disorders are neighbors, friends and relatives. They currently have few options for treatment without traveling far from their homes and support networks."
Lustig also said that Haymarket was going back to the drawing board.
"We still retain the right to open an outpatient center at the same location," Lustig said in the statement. "However, we will take some time to consider all our options before determining next steps."
Haymarket officials have said the center was intended to serve DuPage residents who are 18 and older as the region faces a rising death toll from opioid overdoses. The center also would have provided an outpatient program.
Last year, DuPage County recorded 95 confirmed opioid-related deaths, up from 33 in 2014, according to the coroner's office.