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Methadone Clinic Gets New Life

In Torrington, it appeared that Not-In-My-Backyard would be the rule when zoning permission was sought to open a methadone clinic. The zoning regulations were rewritten in April of 2012, and an application to open a methadone clinic under the new ordinances was denied last November.

The zoning changes also impact where medical marijuana dispensaries and “alternative incarceration facilities.” When Hartford Dispensary applied to open a methadone clinic, they were denied under the rewritten ordinance because of new restrictions about how close such a facility could be to schools. Hartford brought suit in federal court to get the city to change its ruling, basing their suit in part on the American’s with Disabilities Act.

Under the ADA, government and private entities are not allowed to discriminate against the disabled without just cause. Placing a methadone clinic into a category with different zoning regulations simply because it treats addicts might violate the act.

The city of Torrington reacted by approving an amendment to the zoning ordinance, but this may not completely smooth the way for the clinic. Items like adequate parking at the proposed site will still have to be worked out.

It isn’t uncommon for a community to react badly when presented with the possibility of a treatment center opening in their town. Methadone clinics, which treat heroin addiction by maintaining addicts on methadone instead, are particularly shunned. The false idea is that such clinics and other treatment facilities will become a nexus for drug dealers and addicts to hang out – increasing crime in the area and drawing unwanted people from outside the city. This isn’t the case however, with well run facilities being attractive, unobtrusive and business-like.

For now, Hartford Dispensary will have to resubmit their request and a new vote will be taken. The company already runs five methadone clinics in Connecticut.

More information about the zoning battle can be found here.


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