Feds to join in Haymarket lawsuit against Itasca

Chicago’s U.S. attorney’s office is seeking to join a lawsuit against Itasca over the village’s rejection of a plan to turn a former hotel into an addiction treatment and recovery center.

Haymarket Center filed the original complaint in January 2022, arguing that Itasca leaders violated federal anti-discrimination laws by denying a request to use a vacant Holiday Inn as a 240-bed center for people with substance-use disorders.

The U.S. attorney’s office for Northern Illinois sided with Haymarket in a motion to intervene as a plaintiff in the pending lawsuit, saying village officials “legitimized, endorsed, and fanned the flames of residents’ fears by issuing scores of public statements disparaging Haymarket and its supporters.”

“Having the Department of Justice involved with Haymarket Center is crucial to really getting people to address health equity in this country,” said Dan Lustig, president and CEO of the nonprofit health care provider.

Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn said Friday the village “will continue to pursue every avenue available to us to ensure that justice prevails and the truth is upheld.”

Pruyn and an attorney representing the village defended how officials handled the Haymarket review.

Renato Mariotti, the former federal prosecutor the village hired, said he fears the Justice Department’s attempt to insert itself into the case will not bring Haymarket and Itasca closer to a resolution.

“I believe the DOJ’s intervention will waste government resources on a long, expensive litigation that is ill-conceived,” said Mariotti, adding that it would have been better resolved by federal attorneys sitting down and having a discussion with the village “rather than making inaccurate and misleading allegations in a complaint.”

According to documents filed Thursday, federal attorneys contend the village “engaged in disparate treatment by employing a host of unprecedented and highly anomalous tactics to frustrate Haymarket’s treatment center proposal.”

The complaint alleges that village officials “concocted a pretextual narrative that the treatment center would impose severe economic” harm on the region and its taxing bodies. The complaint contends that the village also failed to fulfill its accommodation obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act before denying Haymarket’s zoning request.

Read more at dailyherald.com.

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