Pubdate: Tue, 30 Dec 2003
Source: Bristol Herald Courier (VA)
Copyright: 2003 Bristol Herald Courier
Author: Chris Dumond
Bookmark: (Methadone)


ABINGDON - When attorney Mike Bragg asked the crowd of more than 160
residents Monday night to stand up or raise their hands if they oppose
a proposed methadone clinic in Washington County, all but two or three
did just that.

The residents attended a called meeting of the county's Board of
Supervisors, which gathered to hear concerns and comments about the

Earlier this month, South Carolina-based Appalachian Treatment
Services asked the county for permission to locate a methadone clinic
on Old Dominion Road near the Lowry Hills subdivision outside Bristol.
Bragg represents homeowners in the subdivision who have come out
strongly against the clinic with petitions and a letter-writing campaign.

The synthetic narcotic is used to treat narcotics addicts, such as
those hooked on heroin, but has been criticized by some who claim that
it exchanges one drug addiction for another.

Several supervisors said they also oppose the clinic. But according to
county laws, the permitting decisions in this case are made by County
Administrator Mark Reeter.

Homeowners association spokesman Wes Rosenbalm told the board that if
a clinic is allowed near his neighborhood, he would be afraid for the
safety of his children and worried about his property values.

"I won't be able to do it anymore, but I leave the neighborhood a lot
of times with the door open," Rosenbalm said. "Now, I'm looking over
my shoulder."

He displayed an aerial photo of the region, which showed the
subdivision, the clinic's proposed location and it's proximity to the
Bristol Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles office, Midway Baptist
Church, Bristol Virginia Utilities' offices and John S. Battle High

He said the residents opposed to the clinic have earned the support of
county Sheriff Fred Newman, state Sen. William Wampler, R-Bristol, and
Del. Joe Johnson, D-Abingdon.

U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-9th, has also expressed opposition to the
clinic, as have county school officials.

"We will not stop until this clinic goes away," Rosenbalm

Bragg, also a resident of Lowry Hills, attacked the clinic from
several legal angles. The clinic must be issued a certificate of
occupancy by Reeter in order to go forward. To do that, Reeter would
have to find that the clinic was appropriate for the business, general
zoning in that area, he said.

Bragg said, however, that to do so would be premature.

He said the clinic operators have asked to use a manufactured home on
the site as their office. County laws only allow manufactured homes to
be used as offices for manufactured home sales in areas zoned for
business, not drug treatment facilities, he said.

He said that although the home was once a demonstration model for a
manufactured home business, it has not been used for that purpose in
years and should have been removed from the lot.

"Its presence there right now is illegal," he said.

And while several medical uses such as pharmacies and physicians'
offices are allowed in business zones, he said the drug clinic does
not qualify.

The company, according to Bragg, is not licensed as a professional
medical business and would not have a full-time physician on site.

"It's a sham and a hoax for this company to claim to be a health-care
practice," he said.

Susan Barry of Johnson City asked the board not to allow a methadone
clinic anywhere in the Tri-Cities area. She said her 29-year-old
daughter overdosed in part on methadone and died last year.

Another speaker, Teresa Sanders, said she sympathized with the
residents and that the clinic location was probably a poor one.
However, she said the clinics work and are needed in Washington County.

Supervisor Dulcie Mumpower, who represents the area where the clinic
has been proposed, said she supports the residents in their opposition.

"I'm concerned because this is located at the site of a high school,
it's located across from a church - all these things that have been
mentioned here tonight," Mumpower said.

She also called on county officials to order the removal of the
manufactured homes at the site.

Newman, Johnson and school board member Katheryn Roark also spoke
against the clinic location.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Derting said the application is
still under review by the county administration. He said he expects a
decision by mid-January.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin