Bull Valley ordinance has rehab center looking elsewhere

BULL VALLEY – Ownership eyeing Bull Valley for their alcohol and drug rehabilitation center will have to look elsewhere after a last-minute ordinance change from the village led to their withdrawal.

The village board voted last month to eliminate the "group dwelling" special use option via an amendment to the housing ordinance, prompting Lemont-based La Voie, Inc. to withdraw its petition.

At a public hearing conducted by the zoning board in early October, community members had showed up strongly in opposition to the group home for adolescent and adult males. Ownership had pinpointed for its operation a for-sale Bull Valley residence on 25 acres of land at 9414 Route 120.

The Bull Valley zoning board heard close to three hours of public comment at the meeting before postponing to Monday night. The village board passed the amendment in late November.

Village Board Trustee Emily Berendt said the petition from La Voie was what made the board "get moving" on the change.

"But we've been reviewing our housing ordinance for some time," she said.

Still, the move raises legal concerns, said Mark Saladin, the attorney for La Voie and a Woodstock councilman.

"There are some fair housing issues that come from their actions," Saladin said.

Monday night's continuation of October's public hearing was moved back to village hall after officials had originally planned to hold it in a different location to accommodate the expected crowd.

It included about 15 minutes of public comment in opposition to the rehab center before the zoning board voted unanimously to recommend to the village board that the petition be denied.

Village Attorney Michael Smoron said the board decided to make a recommendation – despite the withdrawal of petition – because of the "ambiguity" of the facility.

"I'm not sure this was a 'group dwelling,'" Smoron said. "It was more of an alcohol rehab facility."

Regardless, La Voie President Kyle Oremus said her prospective facility has moved on. She didn't attend Monday's hearing.

"We have since received numerous responses of support wherein communities have reached out to us and are interested in our vision," she said.

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