|City To Move Forward With Methadone, Suboxone Regulation|
|By Joe Durwin, Special to iBerkshires|
04:26PM / Friday, February 10, 2012
Editor's Note: An important phrase in the lede was accidently deleted during the editing process that changed the tone of the article. It has been reinserted in italics.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board agreed Tuesday to draft a zoning amendment prohibiting methadone and Suboxone clinics in key downtown areas.
The board, acting as a petitioner, will craft the amendment, which will later go to the City Council, in the wake of Spectrum Health Services being denied a permit to open a treatment clinic on Summer Street last year.
The Spectrum case is still being battled in court and this change would have no effect on the outcome of that suit. In late 2011, Ward 6 Councilor John Krol began seeking ways to prohibit the opening of new opiate treatment clinics in the downtown area.
"I think it's important to send a clear message, and that we do move forward in a timely manner, and make clear the city's perspective on this," Krol said on Tuesday.
Board member Alfred "Alf" Barbalunga asked about any such opiate treatment centers already operating in the city such as the downtown Suboxone clinic Experience Wellness and if such an amendment to the zoning ordinance would effect them. Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer said this would only have an impact on such existing medical practices if they chose to relocate.
Ruffer said the amendment would close loopholes that came to light in the current suit against the city, in which Spectrum Health and its attorneys maintain that as an educational business, their proposed office is exempt from certain zoning requirements.
"It has been the experience of other communities that by explicitly regulating such clinics you significantly narrow if not eliminate that argument," Ruffer said.
Staff of the Community Development department is now expected to draft a document for review by the board at a future public hearing. Any recommendation from that body will then go before the City Council for final hearing. The proposed change to the zoning ordinance would require a super majority of eight out of eleven council members
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