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DeKalb County considers buying Sycamore house for drug court participants

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 12:23 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:53 a.m. CDT
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Debbie Behrends - dbehrends@shawmedia.comOn Wednesday, March 19, the DeKalb County Board will consider a resolution to purchase this home at 303 Exchange St. in Sycamore to be used as a sober living home for the county's Drug and DUI Court program.

SYCAMORE — DeKalb County's Drug and DUI Court is one small step closer to having a local sober living home for recovering addicts in the program.

When DeKalb County Board members meet March 19, they will consider buying a home at 303 E. Exchange St. in Sycamore. The board's executive committee voted Tuesday to place the resolution on the board's agenda.

The motion did not include a dollar figure for the purchase, but DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson said the resolution will include the proposed purchase price of $146,000. He said some minor work will need to be done inside the home to prepare for its new use.

"If the resolution is successful, the proposal will need to go to the Sycamore City Council to approve a special use permit," Hanson said.

The 2,388-square-foot building is a two-unit rental property, a four-bedroom main unit with a single-bedroom upper, according to a listing on Zillow.com. The asking price was $154,900, and the home with attached garage originally was built in 1910. It's about a two-block walk to the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Before Sycamore City Council members consider the proposal, the request will be heard by the Sycamore Planning Commission at a public hearing.

"We're hoping to have this wrapped up within a couple of months," Hanson said.

Because this type of home is not defined in Sycamore's list of residential uses, officials reached an agreement on the definition of a recovery or sober living home in October. As defined, a sober living home would be a monitored residence for no more than eight people suffering from substance abuse issues.

The Sycamore City Council amended the city's Unified Development Ordinance to include the definition. Drug court administrators will need to seek a special-use permit from the city to establish the home.

Drug court coordinator Marilyn Stromborg said this type of home is needed for men who participate in the program because none exists in the county. Women in the program stay at Discovery House, run by the Ben Gordon Center, she said.

Of DeKalb County's 35 or so drug court participants, a third of them are men who stay in homes in Addison, Elgin and Aurora, Stromborg said.

Participants typically go through a three-month residential program, where they are intensively supervised and counseled. After that, they enter another facility that provides a recovery environment.

"Our program is very structured and evidence-based, and these people living in Lake, Kane or DuPage county ... we can't just offer [them] the same kind of intensive services," Stromborg said.

She said residents would be supervised by a house manager and the drug court team. They have to do chores, attend counseling sessions and other meetings.

DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert told the Sycamore City Council in October that participants who break the drug court's rules can face harsh punishments. If they don't successfully complete the program, the would face the criminal charges they received before they entered it.

"We have participants in our program now [who have] nine to 12 to 14 years of time with the Illinois Department of Corrections hanging over their heads," Stuckert told aldermen in October.

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