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Rehab house nearly ready

It's taken more than two years of debate and delay and a legal battle that still hasn't been settled but Haven Chemical Health System appears nearly ready to open a drug and alcohol treatment facility in a Castle Rock Township neighborhood.

Haven executive director John Henderlite said the company is in the process of hiring a program director for the residential facility on Albatross Circle and hopes to open its doors to as many as six patients between Dec. 1 and Jan. 1.

Haven would ultimately like to house 10 patients in the facility, to be called Paul's Place, but a lawsuit over the township's reluctance to issue a conditional use permit has not yet been settled, town board chair Gary Pipho said.

"It's a more ideal group size," Henderlite said of the 10-patient goal. "Six is kind of small and we want to utilize the positive peer culture that kind of comes with having that ideal group size of 10 people."

Haven has worked since the middle of 2006 to open a residential treatment facility in a home on Albatross Circle. But other residents on the street have objected from the beginning, raising concerns ranging from falling property values to the safety of children to the presence of an abandoned construction material landfill near the home.

The facility will have six or seven employees on site over the course of a 24-hour period with a maximum of about four on duty during daytime hours.

The facility has been a source of concern for neighbors from the moment it was proposed in August of 2006. Other residents of Albatross Circle worried people coming and going from the facility would make the normally quiet street dangerous for their children, or that patients wandering around the property would cause problems.

Pipho said he understands residents' concerns.

"There's drug addicts and alcoholics and they're just afraid for their kids," Pipho said. "I think that's understandable."

Henderlite, though, said patients' days are usually too structured for them to have much free time.

"They're kept pretty busy," he said. "We're not going to be having people wandering around the neighborhood. They'll be pretty much confined and doing treatment around the house. There won't be anyone going for walks."

Henderlite is used to seeing resistance to Haven facilities, but he said this process was particularly challenging.

"We really like the facility and the area," he said. "When things get put off it gets kind of frustrating."

Pipho said he's comfortable with the six-bed facility. He's waiting for the results of the legal action to determine whether the facility will be allowed to expand.

"I'm hoping everything works out for the best," he said. "Hopefully ... the surrounding residents are happy with the way the facility is run."