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Palella v. Leyden Family Service





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. ROBERT NOLAN, Judge, presiding.


Leyden Family Service & Mental Health Center and West Suburban Detoxification Center (hereinafter referred to as "WSDC") appeal from the order of the circuit court enjoining the operation of a non-medical detoxification facility on the premises known as Acre View, Inc.

Acre View, consisting of an older frame building and a more modern adjoining brick building, parking lot and surrounding grounds, is located at 1330 Villa Avenue in the Village of Villa Park. Until November of 1967, Acre View had been outside the village limits, but in November 1967 it was annexed to Villa Park and at that time by virtue of Ordinance 1019, dated November 6, 1967, a special use was granted for the operation of Acre View as a nursing and convalescent home. The ordinance reads in pertinent part as follows:

"2. This special use permit is hereby granted under the provisions of Village Ordinance No. 861, Section 25-10, A(h) [the village zoning ordinance]. The petitioners shall be permitted to operate a private nursing and convalescent home on the premises herein described. Said nursing and convalescent home shall not be converted to a hospital, nor to an institution for the care of the insane or feeble minded, but shall continue to operate under a special use permit under the same or similar conditions to those existing at the time of the annexation of said Acre View Nursing Home now located upon the premises.

3. The term of this special use permit shall be for as long a period of time as the property is being used for present nursing home and convalescent purposes and shall expire upon a termination of the use of the property or any portion thereof for such purposes."

Early in 1978, Donald Goncher, owner of Acre View, decided to convert part of the property to a day-care center for older adults. He inquired of the village authorities if this would be permissible and was advised by the village manager in a letter dated March 20, 1978, that "your conversion of Acre View from a nursing home operation to an adult day care center appears to be within the scope of your special use permit and in accordance with the definitions set forth in our Village Ordinance 1195 [the general zoning ordinance]."

Accordingly, Goncher began to operate the adult day care center on a portion of the premises while preparing to phase out the nursing home operation. It was about at this time that the Leyden Family Service & Mental Health Center, a not-for-profit operation operating with public funds, approached Gonscher with the view of arranging a lease of Acre View, or a part thereof, for the operation of a non-medical detoxification center under the name of West Suburban Detoxification Center.

A word about the social phenomenon known as a non-medical or social setting detoxification center might be appropriate at this point for clarification. In 1976, the State Legislature enacted the Alcoholism and Intoxication Treatment Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 91 1/2, par. 501 et seq.) in response to a growing awareness of the inadequacy of prevailing handling and treatment of alcoholics, who were usually arrested and jailed for public drunkenness and put into so-called "drunk tanks" to sleep it off, after which they were charged with a misdemeanor and fined. Section 1 of the Act sets out the State policy as follows:

"It is the policy of this State that alcoholics and intoxicated persons engaged in public drunkenness may not be subjected to criminal prosecution solely because of their consumption of alcoholic beverages but rather should be afforded a continuum of treatment in order that they may lead normal lives as productive members of society."

The Act, in subsequent provisions, is clearly concerned with the prevention and treatment of alcoholism generally and not merely with public intoxication. West Suburban Detoxification Center is a facility financed by a State grant and designed to achieve the purposes of the Alcoholism and Intoxication Treatment Act. The testimony of Dr. Lee Gladstone, an expert on alcoholism who piloted the initial detoxification facility, described the treatment at such facilities as follows:

"The centers receive the intoxicated person, help him through a withdrawal [sic] phenomena where he most of the time sleeps it off, so to speak, and then the remaining time that they spend in the social setting detoxification is to develop a relation with them which would be warm and accepting and help them link to long-term facilities to help them with that addiction.

That's basically the treatment. There are no medicines used in our social setting detoxification center, with the exception of vitamins and food supplements.

There are no restraints used."

Further testimony indicated that admission to such facility was on a purely voluntary basis, except that in some cases a person who was intoxicated in public might be driven to the center by the police. However, such person is not forced to remain there if he chooses to leave, although this would be discouraged, and if possible a former member or friend would be called in order to assist him, if he insisted on leaving ...

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