Judge dismisses Haymarket Center's lawsuit against Itasca
Haymarket Center will continue its effort to open a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Itasca after a DuPage County judge dismissed a lawsuit the group filed against the village.
But it remains unclear when the village can resume its review of Haymarket's proposal because of coronavirus-related restrictions on crowd sizes.
In October, Itasca's plan commission started hosting a series of public hearings on Haymarket's plan to convert a Holiday Inn along Irving Park Road into a 240-bed facility for patients with substance-use disorders. Ultimately, it will be up to the village board to decide if the project can move forward as a planned development.
The process, however, was put on hold in December when Haymarket filed a lawsuit against the village. The Chicago-based nonprofit group claimed it should have been allowed to seek a special-use permit to operate as a health care facility.
But on Monday, a DuPage judge granted the village's motion to dismiss the case.
In an email to supporters, Haymarket officials said the judge found the lawsuit was premature "but also granted us the right to file anew after the village makes its ruling."
"Should the village ultimately reject our zoning application, rest assured (Monday's) court decision does not prevent us from future legal action on the merits to secure zoning approval," wrote Dr. Dan Lustig, Haymarket's president and CEO.
On Tuesday, the village released a statement saying the legal costs related to the case "were unfortunate for Itasca taxpayers." But the statement says the dismissal of the lawsuit allows the village to resume the plan commission process.
"Itasca still does not have all of the facts and information that the village needs," the statement reads, "and everyone looks forward to the resumption of the hearings at an appropriate time."
Lustig said Haymarket officials anticipate that Itasca may resume the public hearings as early as April 15, "although that date may be further delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic."
"At every stage in this process, we become more steadfast in our resolve to expand access to lifesaving substance use disorder treatment," he wrote.
Meanwhile, there's been considerable opposition to Haymarket's proposal from residents who say Itasca is too small to support the proposed facility.
In addition to costing the town tax revenue by replacing the hotel, opponents say the center would strain police and emergency services. The fire protection district has one ambulance.
When Itasca tried to have the first public hearing in September at a junior high, it had to be postponed after more than 1,300 people filled the gym and cafeteria -- and 200 to 300 more were waiting to get in.
The public hearing was delayed a second time when village officials couldn't secure a large enough venue in time to have an Oct. 2 meeting. As a result, the first two public hearings had to be held at a high school in neighboring Roselle.
After a drop in the number of residents attending, the meetings were moved back to Peacock Middle School in Itasca. Still, each meeting has drawn hundreds of people.