Proposed methadone clinic on Route 146 has some worried
Sutton – Town officials, business owners and residents are concerned that a building on Route 146 is the wrong location for a methadone clinic that’s proposed to operate there.
Spectrum Health Systems has leased a 2,250-square-foot space at 140 Worcester- Providence Tpke., a building that houses apartments, a lawyer’s office and a fitness studio, with plans to operate a medication assisted treatment substance program (MAT) at the property.
Participants would receive two-and-a-half to five hours of on-site education and behavior modification each week, and nurses would dispense the medication methadone there in the early morning hours. Used as part of a drug addiction detoxification and maintenance program, methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other opiate drugs without causing the “high” associated with the drugs.
According to a letter to Sutton Building Commissioner John Couture from Spectrum’s COO Kurt Isaacson, the program would operate “from 6 a.m. until early evening, with the vast majority of visits occurring in the early morning hours when the medication is dispensed.”
“There’s obviously an epidemic going on with opiates in this country and this state and it’s an issue that we deal with on a daily basis. We get an overdose a month here in Sutton,” said town administrator Jim Smith. “Clearly, it’s an issue that the whole state needs to deal with. I just don’t feel this site is appropriate for this use.”
A state law known as the Dover Amendment, which exempts educational programs like Spectrum’s from limitation imposed by zoning ordinances and other regulations, has allowed Spectrum to make plans for the facility without holding public hearings, which has officials in Sutton frustrated.
“They could have at least come to the Board [of Selectmen] in executive session to talk about these plans. They signed a lease before they even met with us,” he said.
Business owners and residents at the site were just as shocked.
Kelly Greenwood, owner of Rev’ Health and Wellness, which operates in the building, took to social media to last week to ask Sutton residents to contact officials about the clinic.
“We are not opposed to having a clinic, however, we feel this is not the best location for such a business,” she said. “Our key issues are [that] there are children living above the proposed location as well on the street directly abutting the property. There will an increase of traffic in an already congested area.”
Couture has until the first week of February to decide whether or not to issue a building permit. A key factor will be the building’s occupancy load.
In businesses and residences, currently 17 people occupy the building, which is fed by a private well. If occupancy exceeds 25, it triggers a public water supply issue. Public water supply would require a minimum 100-foot setback from the septic system.
Smith said Spectrum would have 125 to 150 people using the site, but noted, “I don’t know if that’s weekly, monthly, or what. But with security and the people they have employed, I definitely feel it will exceed the current occupancy limit.”
Greenwood said she feels parking would be an issue, as well.
But Isaacson said early morning clients are typically at the facility for less than ten minutes, and longer stays for classes and counseling are later in the day and staggered so that no more than a dozen would be at the facility at one time for that particular element of the program.
Spectrum currently operates at nine other sites in the state, the closest being two locations in Worcester.