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Itasca probed by feds over NIMBY vote

Friday, Dec 3, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* September of 2019

Itasca plan commissioners admitted they underestimated public interest in a proposed addiction treatment center when a crowd representing 16% of the town’s population packed their meeting Wednesday night.

More than 1,300 people jammed the gym and cafeteria at Peacock Junior High School, forcing commissioners to postpone the hearing so village officials can find a venue large enough for an energized opposition group.

Demonstrators marched earlier Wednesday evening through downtown Itasca to pressure a Chicago nonprofit group to abandon plans to convert a hotel into a 200-bed drug and alcohol treatment center.

For months, resistance against the Haymarket Center proposal in the town of 8,700 has taken the form of yard signs, social media outrage, letter campaigns and matching blue T-shirts.

* Also September of 2019

Founded almost 45 years ago, the nonprofit treatment provider is making its second attempt at opening a rehab facility in DuPage County to help meet what advocates say is a rising demand for services. Almost 100 people died from overdoses in DuPage last year. Nearly 2,000 residents from DuPage and other collar counties also were patients at Haymarket clinics from 2017 to 2018.

But Haymarket faced “not in my backyard” protests against a smaller-scale plan to operate a 16-bed satellite program in Wheaton.

More than a year after Wheaton’s city council denied their request, Haymarket leaders told Itasca officials they wanted to buy the Holiday Inn to house hundreds of patients with substance abuse disorders.

Haymarket is now meeting staunch opposition from Itasca residents who maintain their primary concerns have to do with tax revenue loss from a tax-exempt organization replacing the hotel and the potential burden placed on the village’s police and ambulance service.

* November of 2021

More than two years after the Haymarket drug treatment center’s initial proposal to build a large rehab in Itasca was greeted with intense protest, the Village Board formally turned down the plan in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The decision, which drew restrained applause from residents in the meeting room, came as little surprise following steady criticism from officials who say the town of 9,000 can’t afford the projected public safety costs from the 240-bed facility, meant to be housed in a former Holiday Inn hotel. […]

The story is likely not over just yet. Haymarket’s attorney said in an earlier presentation that a rejection would violate federal civil rights laws that protect people recovering from addiction, and president and CEO Dan Lustig suggested after the vote that a legal challenge might be coming.

“These types of issues might have to play (themselves) out in a court of law,” he said. “I think it’s really where important decisions like this really belong.”

* November 24, 2021 letter to Itasca’s mayor from US Attorney John Lausch

We are writing to inform you that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois has initiated an investigation of the Village of Itasca for compliance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).1 Among other things, the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including individuals with substance use disorder.

Pursuant to our authority under the ADA, the investigation is related to the zoning application of Haymarket DuPage LLC (“Haymarket DuPage”) filed with the Village of Itasca to use property to operate a treatment center for individuals with substance use and behavioral health disorders.

* Yesterday

The Haymarket drug treatment center’s more-than-two-year attempt to open a rehab in Itasca took another turn Thursday when officials said U.S. Attorney John Lausch has launched an investigation into whether the village’s rejection of the center was in keeping with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mayor Jeff Pruyn released a letter Lausch sent last week, in which he announced the probe and noted that the ADA protects people with disabilities — including substance use disorder — from discrimination. […]

Lausch asked village officials to produce a raft of documents within the next 30 days, including zoning bylaws, internal emails related to Haymarket and any relevant communications with the local fire protection district and school systems.

The rest of Lausch’s list is here.

* Daily Herald

When asked for comment, Haymarket leaders released a brief statement and directed any other questions to the U.S. attorney’s office.

“We welcome an investigation,” Haymarket President and CEO Dan Lustig said.

The issue of ADA compliance was raised in a June 2020 letter to village attorneys from Access Living, a Chicago-based advocacy group for people with disabilities.

Two attorneys for the group said Haymarket should have been allowed to seek a special-use permit to operate as a health care facility..


  1. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:01 am:

    Shocking that Lausch lifts a finger for anything other than Madigan.

  2. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:06 am:

    Are you suggesting that something improper might happen in the suburbs?

  3. - David - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:12 am:

    Good for Haymarket for making sure that an investigation is launched against the Village of Itasca who appears to be in clear violation of the ADA Act. Elected Officials and community members need to be aware that their “community development preferences” will not pass legal muster if its motivated by bias and discrimination. #Accountability

  4. - Nathan - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:13 am:

    There is a methadone clinic in downtown Downers Grove and we are doing just fine.

  5. - charles in charge - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:23 am:

    It’s so deeply disturbing to see a community reject health care services desperately needed by so many residents because of stigma against people who use drugs.

  6. - allknowingmasterofraccoondom - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:24 am:

    It is ignorance, and I say that respectfully. The good people of Itasca just don’t understand how this facility will not harm, but help their local economy and development efforts. They are not bad people. And, I don’t think Itasca willfully tried to break the law, I think they just succumbed to pressure from their constituents. This will get fixed.

  7. - Proud Sucker - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:28 am:

    “There is a methadone clinic in downtown Downers Grove and we are doing just fine.”

    AND, it’s been there since the 90s.

  8. - City Zen - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:29 am:

    If you can’t put an addiction treatment center in a light industrial/office area on a lot bordering an interstate highway and down the street from a police department, when can you put one?

  9. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:41 am:

    ===appears to be in clear violation of the ADA Act===

    It does? Seems more like sizzle than steak at this point. It might be there, but it might not.

  10. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:42 am:

    “deeply disturbing to see a community reject health care services”

    It may be disturbing but the local residents came out in droves to express concerns over locating the facility in Itasca. The board heard the community and voted 6-0 against the proposal. Additionally, the Village President offered a reasonable argument based on the financial strain the facility would place on the community…

  11. - Bothanspied - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:46 am:

    Sad to see DINOs emerge this late in the year.

  12. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:50 am:

    If we aren’t willing to allow treatment centers, what does that say about us? Does anyone know if this would also include alcohol abuse?

  13. - JS Mill - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    Even more disturbing than the Itasca issue is the rejection in Wheaton. Wheaton has a significant drug abuse issue with their high school students and a treatment center located in the community would allow teens to stay close to home while getting treatment.

  14. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:55 am:

    Why sue Itasca and not Wheaton where they were initially refused? Did they not want to get on Jeanne Ives’ bad side? I’d think Wheaton would be far better able to provide the needed police and emergency services than a small place like Itasca.

  15. - In 630 - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    =I’d think Wheaton would be far better able to provide the needed police and emergency services than a small place like Itasca.=

    That’s a wild dystopia being pictured where a treatment center has any more intensive public safety needs than a senior housing complex or urgent care office.

  16. - Payback - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    “Shocking that Lausch lifts a finger for anything other than Madigan.” Agree 100%. I’d bet the ComEd/Madigan/City Club investigation began under Patrick Fitzgerald anyway. None of the U.S. Attorneys or their staffers who came after Fitzgerald have impressed me very much.

    With what, fifteen counties in the Northern District, going from Chicago north to the Wisconsin border and west to Iowa, is Lausch doing anything outside the Chicago metro area? I don’t know why Durbin and Ducworth stuck their necks out to keep him around.

  17. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 12:45 pm:

    == That’s a wild dystopia being pictured where a treatment center has any more intensive public safety needs than a senior housing complex or urgent care office.==

    Yeah you’ve obviously never lived near a substance abuse clinic before. Not that they’re ridiculously dangerous places, of course, but providers of court-ordered substance abuse services like Haymarket do often need emergency response and far more frequent police response than a senior care center or urgent care facility. Wheaton has far more public resources than Itasca, however, and was the first municipality to deny them, so why not demand to be placed there instead?

  18. - charles in charge - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 1:01 pm:

    ==why not demand to be placed there instead?==

    Literally, “not in my backyard.” SMH . . .

  19. - Ebenezer - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 1:14 pm:

    My sister is alive today and a wonderful aunt to her nephews because of treatment.
    A treatment center is, on net, a critical asset, not a liability.
    All of the things the crowd is worried about are still happening, and at higher rates, with less treatment available.

  20. - Huh? - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 1:24 pm:

    “Even more disturbing … is the rejection in Wheaton.”

    Wonder if the evangelicals nesting at Wheaton College had anything to do with the rejection of the rehab facility.

  21. - anon2 - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 2:14 pm:

    If it were a nursing home proposing to convert the hotel, I doubt residents would have been up in arms, despite lots of ambulance calls from such facilities. Residents turned out in droves not to prevent higher ambulance costs, but because of the stigma. Hence the ADA violation.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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