Home > 1, All Posts, All things MAT, Don't know!, Family and Friends, NIMBYism > Methadone clinic proposed for former Warren school – Daniel Dunkle – Rockland – Camden – Knox – The Herald Gazette

Methadone clinic proposed for former Warren school – Daniel Dunkle – Rockland – Camden – Knox – The Herald Gazette

Methadone clinic proposed for former Warren school – Daniel Dunkle – Rockland – Camden – Knox – The Herald Gazette.

Warren — A methadone clinic has been proposed for the former school building on School Street, according to town sources.

Planning Board Chairman Peter Krakoff confirmed Nov. 17 that he heard about the proposal in discussions with Town Manager Grant Watmough and Code Enforcement Officer Bill O’Donnell.

The Warren Planning Board voted unanimously Nov. 4 to approve a site plan for professional and business office rentals at the former school building, according to meeting minutes. Vixen Land Holdings LLC has a purchase-and-sale agreement on the building, according to Watmough, and was represented at the planning board meeting by local businessman Bob Emery.

Krakoff said a methadone clinic was never discussed during the planning board meeting in which the school was approved for business offices.

He said that had the planning board been told the project involved something with as much potential impact as a methadone clinic, he is confident the board would have considered holding public hearings on the project.

Krakoff further argued that if someone wants to put a methadone clinic in that building, they would have to come back to the planning board for a change of use.

“I’m just saying what we permitted is different from a clinic,” he said. He acknowledged the board would have asked a totally different set of questions for a methadone clinic before approving the project than it would for professional and business offices.

However, he said there are others who disagree with his view on this.

The school, sometimes called the “old brick school,” which also served in the past as a superintendent’s office, is located at 44 School St., next to the Baptist church.

Watmough said Nov. 17 that an “entity” talked to members of the Baptist church about a proposal for the school. He said Emery is looking for tenants for the building and a potential tenant was talking to abutters.

Watmough would not confirm that a methadone clinic has been proposed for the school building.

However, he said he believes it is a true statement that the property has all of the permits necessary from the town to open a methadone clinic there.

Both Watmough and Krakoff point out that the town’s ordinances are silent on the topic of medical or methadone clinics.

Krakoff argued, however, that that doesn’t speak to whether or not methadone clinics fall under the category of professional and business offices.

Watmough said he could not provide any information on the issue, arguing it was outside his role in the process.

“We’re selling the building,” he said, to describe his role.

Emery, who owns Emery’s Construction, could not be reached for comment. Nor could the State Office of Substance Abuse.

Main Street resident Rob Graham said he lives across the street from the school. He said he heard a rumor about the methadone clinic and contacted Watmough. Unable to get any information at the town office, Graham contacted Emery.

He said Emery told him it would be a methadone clinic and gave him the company name CRC Healthgroup Outpatient Treatment Program in Chadds Ford, Pa.

Graham also said people involved with the proposed clinic met with some church members.

Graham criticized the town manager for failing to give him answers to his questions about this project.

“What we heard in an executive session stays in executive session,” said Chairman Wayne Luce of the Warren Board of Selectmen. He said selectmen met behind closed doors with Emery and a potential tenant from a health group.

He argued that selectmen had no say over the use of the building and that it was the planning board that approved it.

Krakoff said he believes the selectmen’s closed-door meeting was held after the planning board meeting in which the approval was given for business offices.

He said he also understands that town officials contacted the Maine Municipal Association to see if methadone clinics are allowed under the town’s ordinance and MMA said yes. However, he contends, that still doesn’t mean methadone clinics fall under business and professional offices.

Watmough said the price of the building in the purchase-and-sale agreement with Vixen was not being released to the public yet because the sale was not final. He noted that another party has also expressed interest in the building.

According to planning board meeting minutes, Emery told the planning board he plans to renovate the building as an office complex and rent out space for professionals such as doctors or accountants. Under the site plan, the offices will only be open during regular business hours.

Emery told the planning board some potential tenants have showed interest, but none has committed to locating there so far.

It was not decided at the meeting whether the building will still be accessible from Main Street or just from School Street off Route 90.

In the application for the site plan, Emery estimated the project would take seven months to complete.

As part of the purchase-and-sale agreement, Vixen has up to six months to secure all of the necessary permits for the project, according to Watmough. He said the company will be testing the building and its materials in part because it has some asbestos floor tiles. The building is owned by the town.

Watmough said the sale does not have to go back to town voters. The town manager explained that a number of options for the school have already been presented to voters and they chose to sell the building.

 

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