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Elmhurst Neighbors Fight Zoning Change That Would Allow 7 People To Stay At Sober House On Residential Block – trendat

ELMHURST, Ill. (CBS) — A neighborhood in west suburban Elmhurst is an uproar about a house serving as a home for former addicts.

The house has been in violation of city code for more than a year. And as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday night, neighbors are fighting a zoning change that would allow for seven people to stay there.

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This is not your typical not-in-my-backyard story. The people living in the area are not opposed to a recovery home. What they don’t like is the way the City of Elmhurst, or the property owner, are going about it.

The house in question is an unassuming one on a quiet Elmhurst block – except, that is, for a sign in front that notifies neighbors of a pending conditional use permit – or a zoning change – allowing it to become a so-called sober house for seven people.

“We actually are OK with the concept of a sober house in our neighborhood,” said Adam Smeets, who lives on the block.

But there is a “but.”

“I have issue with seven or eight unrelated persons living there,” said Anne Anderson.

Currently, Elmhurst code only allows four unrelated people to live in a single-family house. These neighbors want it to stay that way.

“When we move into a seven-plus occupancy – where we are now operating as a multi-apartment complex – there are a whole host of other issues that come along with that,” Smeets said.

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Among the issues, Smeets said, are safety and lack of recovery programs.

A group called Carpenter’s Tools Ministry runs the home. Its president, Jay Webb, said it greatly helps recovering addicts transition back into society – adding there is no drinking or drug use allowed.

But neighbors point to past problems.

“There’s been a lot of negative activity,” Anderson said.

The reasons for concern, neighbors said, include a man who died of an apparent overdose and wasn’t found for days. The neighbors were ready to speak up again this week.

“Our last committee meeting – the public comment period was pushed off to the end of the meeting,” Smeets said.

Smeets believes that is a violation of the Open Meetings Act, and sent a letter to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office asking for an investigation.

No one with the City of Elmhurst agreed to an on-camera interview. But city planners provided us with a statement, saying Carpenter’s Tools Ministries provided the city with an abundance of information, and that it plans to recommend a zoning change if seven conditions are met.

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However, Elmhurst’s planner did not address claims that it violated the Open Meetings Act.

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