WHEATON – Residents are voicing their objections to a proposal to open a 16-bed inpatient addiction treatment center in the former Loyola University Medical Center office building at 140 E. Loop Road near the Danada Square East shopping center in Wheaton.
Haymarket DuPage would be run by the Chicago-based Haymarket Center, which has treatment facilities in Chicago and Waukegan. The proposed center also would provide outpatient care.
"Over the past 43 years, Haymarket has emerged as a national leader in addiction and behavioral health treatment," Haymarket Center President and CEO Dr. Dan Lustig told Wheaton Planning and Zoning Board members at their Dec. 12 meeting.
The nonprofit organization was founded in 1975. Its main location in Chicago is a 400-bed residential complex in the Fulton Market neighborhood. Lustig said the center has blended well into the neighborhood.
"In this heavily gentrifying West Loop neighborhood, property values have only gone up around us in recent years, with dozens of new restaurants, tech firms and residential development moving in, like Google, McDonald's, Facebook, etc.," Lustig said.
Danada East resident Angela Welker was among those voicing her opposition to the project.
"I would advise extreme caution in creating a new special use for residential substance abuse treatment facilities to operate in commercial areas," Welker said at the meeting. "This industry is not well regulated, and there are certainly no laws in Wheaton that apply specifically to residential treatment facilities or anything of the like."
She voiced concerns the center would increase crime in the area.
"Drug use and overdoses are a major problem in detox facility parking lots," Welker said.
The meeting was a continuation of a Nov. 14 public hearing on a text amendment and special-use permit for the proposed treatment center. An attorney representing the nearby Town Square Wheaton shopping center also voiced objections to the proposal, arguing it was outside "of the character of this district."
Dr. Patricia Noble of Wheaton, who works at a facility that treats addictions, told Planning and Zoning Board members they should realize those in residential treatment facilities are free to come and go as they please.
"The residents are free to leave at any time," she said. "Chemical addiction is a voluntary process. These patients include patients that are court ordered... Haymarket caters to a rougher clientele with a criminal record. This clientele will not change because they are in DuPage County or Haymarket DuPage."
Noble said she was concerned about the treatment center being located near homes and next to a Kindercare facility.
"There will be drug deals in the parking lot," she said. "There will be drugs smuggled into the facility by visitors and by the people going to the outpatient clinic... If the text amendment is granted, you are bringing much more than substance abuse treatment to Wheaton."
Rich Hogan, who lives in the Danada East subdivision in Wheaton, raised concerns the facility would negatively impact property values in the area. He also asked board members how they would vote on this issue if they had kids enrolled at the nearby Kindercare.
"And would you feel safe to have your children at Kindercare with a facility like this with no locks, no controls and desperate people coming and going?" Hogan asked. "I just ask you to consider that. The safety issue seems to me to be paramount. It's even more important than the property values."
The public hearing was continued until the next Planning and Zoning Board meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Wheaton City Hall, 303 W. Wesley St.