Home > All Posts, All things MAT, NIMBYism > Laconia board grapples with drug treatment facility issues – Fosters

Laconia board grapples with drug treatment facility issues – Fosters

Laconia board grapples with drug treatment facility issues – Fosters.

Laconia board grapples with drug treatment facility issues


By ERIN PLUMMER
eplummer@citizen.com
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Laconia planners will further mull over zoning definitions for any proposed drug treatment facilities at the request of the city council.

In light of discussion and approval of a proposed methadone clinic in the O’Shea Industrial Park, City Planner Shanna Saunders told the Planning Board that city councilors were concerned that specific use for a drug treatment facility was not outlined as applied to the zoning ordinances. Saunders had provided input to the council for its meeting in mid-February as to how to address the situation.

The issue would be to define the treatment center and make it as a conditional use within the zone it is proposed in.

Saunders said the use can define the criteria that needs to be met by the proposed building to receive conditional use. An example is the wetlands conditional use, which Saunders said speaks not only to the additional information needed by the applicant but also the design requirements the planning board could require. The conditions of approval would also be used as an outline to describe criteria to which the board could hold the applicant.

Additional input was sought from the board as to what design criteria it would be looking for and “input as to what zones you would like to see the facility in.”

Initial input was requested from the board during Tuesday’s meeting. More discussion will be held and a public hearing will likely be scheduled in May.

Questions were raised by board members of whether such a facility should be defined as a health care facility.

Board member Kyril Mitchell asked about how a facility that dispenses prescription drugs for substance abuse should be defined in relation to a pharmacy, which is already defined as retail use. Saunders said the entrepreneurial aspect of such a facility is an issue and said she was approached by a drug manufacturer interested in dispensing a drug for opium addiction.

Board member William Contardo also suggested having statistical demographic data of the users of such a facility as further protection for the residents

Contardo also expressed concern with such a facility being in the back of the industrial park that is not in the open and has more wooded areas that people might stay in as opposed to other industrial parks that are more in the open. Saunders said lot can be another factor in the definition.

Board member Claude Richer said it is commonly known that there is extensive drug use in Laconia “and methadone does save lives.”

“There’s a need out there and they’re saving lives,” Richer said. “That’s why it belongs in a hospital.”

The requirement that a drug treatment facility be defined as professional use for it to be located near the hospital was also discussed, though Saunders said the city could not make a private entity such as the hospital work with another private entity such as a drug treatment facility.

Board alternate Tobias Paddock said the Planning Board’s reaction to the issue could send a message to city hall.

“Were not going to (make a) knee-jerk response,” Paddock said. “I think we’ve taken a mature response to this.”

They honestly believe they have “taken a mature response”?  A mature response would be to admit you don’t want a methadone clinic in your town, but also concede that there is nothing you can do to prevent it from locating there.
They also admit methadone saves lives–so should it matter where they do it, as long as they DO IT!?

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