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Sycamore sober living house proposal returned to committee

Sycamore seeks neighbors’ views before moving forward

Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 11:29 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:52 a.m. CDT
(Debbie Behrends – dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
On Wednesday, the DeKalb County Board tabled 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. The resolution will be addressed at a special meeting of the board's Law and Justice Committee at 6:30 p.m. March 31.

SYCAMORE – DeKalb County’s Drug and DUI Court’s proposed sober living home for men in the program is on hold – for now – to give neighbors a chance to weigh in.

The resolution to purchase the Sycamore home at 303 Exchange St. was tabled at Wednesday’s DeKalb County Board meeting. It will be addressed at a special meeting of the board’s Law and Justice Committee at 6:30 p.m. March 31.

Board member Anita Jo Turner, D-Sycamore, voted against moving the resolution to the full board when it was heard by the executive committee last week.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” Turner said. “This is in my district and I wanted to talk to my constituents before making a decision.”

The resolution contained a purchase price of $146,000 for the 2,388-square-foot house. Previously used as a two-unit rental property with four bedrooms in the lower unit and one in the upper, the home was listed at $154,900, according to Zillow.com.

Turner said the purchase goes against the county’s 100-year plan, which would not have any development of the county campus to cross to the east side of Walnut Street.

That plan was just one of the reasons nearly 20 neighborhood residents attended the meeting to oppose the purchase. After hearing from several neighbors, County Board Chairman Jeffery Metzger urged them to attend the committee meeting to discuss the issue further.

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 roughly 35 drug court participants, a third of them are men who stay in homes in Addison, Elgin and Aurora, Stromborg said.

“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 drug court team. They would have to do chores, attend counseling sessions and other meetings.

Because this type of home is not defined in Sycamore’s list of residential uses, city 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 with 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.

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