CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The president of the Haymarket Center says instead of opposing a proposed drug treatment center in Wheaton, residents should embrace it.

The city of Wheaton’s Planning and Zoning board has received 1,100 pages of objections to the proposed 16-bed residential treatment center that will also offer out-patient care. Many of the objections are about the loss of property tax dollars, declining property values and concerns about safety at the 140 E Loop Drive site.

In response, Haymarkets President and CEO Dr. Dan Lustig said it’s the best location for cost and size to address what he calls an exponential increase in opiod use in DuPage. He said in 2016 there were 80 heroin deaths and 300 overdose reversals in the county over the past three years.

“There are families that are pleading to bring more treatment centers like this to the area, not less,” said Dr. Lustig.

Jeff and Sherri Townsend live in nearby Danada East and said they might move if the city approves the zoning text amendment.

“My heart truly goes out to them. I am a mother a five and can’t imagine going through that; however, I think there are better locations,” Sherri Townsend said.

She is concerned about the KinderCare next door to the site or the bus stop across the street.

Another concern raised in emails to the city is that the center would serve patients from Cook County under court-ordered treatment instead of going to jail.

Lustig said the center would treat DuPage residents, since it wouldn’t make sense to send patients from Cook when Haymarket already operates a 400-bed facility in Chicago.

Jeff Townsend also points out if city approves the amendment, that would open the door for other non-profits to move into properties zoned for commercial use and thereby take more real estate off the property tax roles in a city that already has 24 percent of its property as tax-exempt.

The proposal goes again before Wheaton’s Planning and Zoning Board on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

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