Kane County zoning board votes against drug rehab facility
With new concerns Tuesday adding to more than five years of public testimony and votes by governmental bodies rejecting it, a would-be drug and alcohol treatment center failed again to move toward reality in Kane County.
Kane County's zoning board voted 3-2 against the plan.
The vote followed new testimony revealing the facility could be bigger or smaller than first indicated to the public. That information, combined with another public accusation of suspiciously poor legal defense by Kane County's attorneys, ratcheted up the pressure local officials face in determining the ability of the facility to open just outside of Campton Hills.
Attorneys for Maxxam Partners LLC, the entity proposing the project, said all prior indications that the facility would open with a maximum of 120 beds were more theory than fact.
"If the question is what is the number of people that can occupy the facility, the answer is that it would be illegal, and probably unenforceable, to put a maximum cap on as a matter or zoning law," said attorney Caesar Tabet. An expert on mental health care would determine the maximum occupancy as part of the state licensing and regulations for such facilities.
"If we're not qualified, we're not going to get a license," Tabet said.
Likewise, Tabet testified it would also be "illegal and discriminatory and barred by federal law" to restrict the facility to nonpublic, private-pay-only patients.
That information only added to concerns members of the public continued to express about the facility during the public hearing. Neighbors said they fear the facility would attract drug dealers to the area and that patients would overwhelm the septic system and contaminate drinking wells with a variety of medications.
Tabet attempted to ease those concerns by saying the basis of the pending agreement Maxxam has with Kane County is that the facility "will be operated with all requirements of public health, safety and welfare. And if at any time there is a concern or a threat or a risk to public health, safety or welfare, there is a specific remedy."
Attorneys also testified any risk of drinking water contamination is "minimal or nonexistent."
But it was retired Kane County Judge Ed Schreiber who may have made the most incendiary comments. Schreiber said his own attempts to explore the quality of the defense posed by the Kane County state's attorney's office left him with the belief that no defense was mounted to support two votes by the county board rejecting the plan. The pending deal to settle the $68 million lawsuit filed by Maxxam as a result of the county's rejections can be classified only as a "very bad deal," Schreiber said.
"It's even worse than the two prior proposals," he added. "This is less a settlement than a complete capitulation."
Schreiber said Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon misled him during multiple personal conversations into believing no such settlement was in the works.
Those comments add to accusations put in writing by county board Chairman Chris Lauzen that suggested McMahon may have undisclosed conflicts of interest fueling the settlement. McMahon has denied any such conflicts.
The matter now moves to the county board for deliberations and a final vote on the fate of the facility.