Kane County OKs drug treatment center to settle federal lawsuit
Despite impassioned pleadings from constituents and Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, the county board Tuesday agreed to let Maxxam Partners LLC open a controversial substance abuse treatment center near Campton Hills.
The county's insurance company will pay $4.6 million to Maxxam, and $970,000 to Glenwood School, to settle the federal discrimination lawsuit Maxxam brought after its application was refused last year.
Maxxam is buying the former school on Silver Glen Road.
Discussion lasted more than three hours, with residents, Lauzen and several board members urging the board to not give up the fight.
"We are being asked to pay tribute to what I consider a scoundrel," Lauzen said. "They lied to you, they refused to cooperate and they have zero experience in running a treatment facility."
Fourteen board members voted in favor of the agreement.
The county will give a special use permit to Maxxam, subject to several conditions, including Maxxam securing a license from the state. Maxxam agrees to have a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or emergency medical technician on-site at all times, to set up and fund a foundation devoted to combating drug abuse, and to supply 1,500 doses of Narcan to the county over the next 10 years.
About two dozen people -- of the more than 60 who attended -- spoke at the meeting. They argued the cash-strapped Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District cannot provide adequate service to its residents now, let alone to a drug treatment center. The center, they say, is too far from any hospital, should the patients need emergency medical treatment.
There's no public transportation near the site. They believe pharmaceutical compounds in its sewage will contaminate the groundwater from which they draw drinking water, since the site has a septic sewage system and many nearby residents have private wells.
Campton Hills President Harry Blecker expressed disappointment that District 15 board member Barbara Wojnicki, who represents the area in question, was not invited to be part of the negotiations. Board Vice Chairman John Hoscheit was picked. But Hoscheit said Wojnicki could have volunteered for the job.
Wojnicki voted against the settlement.
Lauzen also criticized State's Attorney Joe McMahon's defense of the county, saying it appeared McMahon's office "had decided some time ago that the rest of the county, the members of the zoning board of appeals ... have been guilty of discrimination against people with disabilities, and they are going to pay. And since that time, they then channeled it into a consent decree."
The federal suit accused Kane County of discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Act.
"You (Maxxam) are using the Americans With Disabilities Act dishonorably," nearby resident Sharon O'Brien said.