WEST LAKEVIEW — Since Lakeview residents first learned of plans to open an addiction recovery residence at Ashland and Waveland, relations between the nonprofit Rosecrance and its opposition have been tense.
But Rosecrance returned to what one neighbor called "the lion's den" one final time Monday ahead of a zoning hearing that will determine the plan's fate on Friday.
The 18th meeting between Rosecrance and neighbors was not enough to win over members of the Southport Neighbors Association, 75 percent of whom voted to reject the proposal on Monday, said Lakeview Action Committee member Bridget Lohrius.
Jill Peters, president of the Southport Neighbors, was unavailable to confirm the results Monday night.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has taken a back seat on the issue, but said he would decide before Friday whether he supported the plan. Previously, Tunney said he would "let the chips fall" during the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. Friday.
His office has worked with Rosecrance to create a Good Neighbor Agreement that would tie the facility's special use permit to rules created by a nine-member committee made up of community members and Rosecrance officials.
Ariel Cheung explains why neighbors are concerned:
Tunney said a draft of the agreement, which has not been finalized, would be posted on his website Tuesday, along with the facility's plan of operation.
The Good Neighbor Agreement would be maintained by a group that would meet monthly to discuss issues with the facility. A 24-hour hotline would also be available, with a 72-hour deadline to address concerns, Tunney said.
The zoning board could also set a time limit on the special use permit, forcing Rosecrance to reapply and giving neighbors a chance to regroup should there be issues after the facility opens.
In response to concerns raised at neighbor meetings, Rosecrance shared a summary of its plan of operations on Monday. Chris Yadron, director of Chicago recovery services, said the facility would "far exceed" state staffing requirements and that of other Rosecrance facilities.
Three to five employees would be present from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, with one person working overnight and one or two employees working on weekends. Curfew will be at 11 p.m., and "any person found to be in possession of alcohol or other drugs will be discharged from the program," the plan states.
Yadron said Rosecrance had reviewed police records and incident reports and hasn't had "a single resident negatively impact our community around the residential homes."
"Our clients are not a danger," and have contributed thousands of hours of community service, Yadron said. The principal of a school across from an in-patient treatment facility — for those not yet ready for a post-treatment recovery residence like Rosecrance Lakeview — even endorsed Rosecrance in a letter to support its case, he added.
A group of about 30 neighbors has vehemently opposed the plan from the start, although most said they are in support of addiction treatment in the neighborhood. Instead, their concerns center on operational issues like increased traffic and loitering, public safety and the rotation of short-term residents who stay for an average of four months.
"What strikes me most powerfully is ... your inability to generate trust in the community. All evening you've been defensive rather than in control, and that is disturbing," member Kevin Harrington said. "I think it's important you realize that you have created a level of fear and mistrust and the sense of a lack of respect that does not serve you well."
Yadron said the door has swung both ways throughout the laborious process.
"From where I'm standing, people are smirking and laughing as I speak. It's a challenge both ways. We've tried to provide answers, and people say those answers aren't good enough," Yadron said Monday.
Others stood in support of Rosecrance's plans to build a 30-person transitional living residence with an outpatient counseling center on the first floor of 3701 N. Ashland Ave.
The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce board voted unanimously to support the special use permit, which is required of any transitional residence in Chicago. The Lakeview Clergy Association also expressed in a letter its "strong support" for Rosecrance Lakeview, which it said would "enhance the wellness of our entire community," Rosecrance spokeswoman Kate O'Malley said.
Some supporters at Monday's meeting clashed with the opposing Lakeview Action Committee members, forcing Peters to repeatedly call for order as sides traded jabs.
"Unlike apparently all of you, I am not an expert in mental health or substance abuse. You have these questions about testing and procedures, but I wouldn't know how to use those metrics in a way that's helpful and an indicator of [Rosecrance's] success," Rebecca Resman said.
Resman — who tore down anti-Rosecrance signs at a park last month — said it was clear Rosecrance would have to abide by vigorous state regulations and inspections to keep its license and operate in Lakeview.
"There are entire departments and people that dedicate their entire lives to assessing the qualifications that aren't a guy over here who's an attorney or a woman over there that's a teacher," Resman said.
The Lakeview Action Committee, which has raised more than $20,000 in its efforts to shut down the proposal, has sought a wide range of information from Rosecrance, from the unredacted purchase agreement with Mangan Builders to a year's worth of weekly data on drug testing of clients at all of Rosecrance's 39 facilities.
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