Feb 22 10 10:08 AM

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Plan for methadone clinic faces opposition
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YATESVILLE - Opposition is brewing over a proposal to put an outpatient methadone clinic in Quackenbush Industrial Park on Brown Street.

Discovery House, a Providence, R.I.-based agency, has applied to the Luzerne County Zoning Hearing Board for a variance to operate an outpatient medical drug and alcohol treatment clinic that would dispense opiate medication, or methadone, in an existing building at 141 Brown St. The street runs into the industrial area from Oak Street in neighboring Pittston Township.

A hearing on the application is scheduled for June 4 at 7 p.m. in the Luzerne County commissioners' meeting room in the county courthouse.

"We're going to be there," Mayor Joseph Chiumento said.

He would not elaborate on residents' complaints.

But resident Charlotte Lubinski says the location is too close to a playground and her home.

"I'm here all my life. We don't need that here. There are too many kids here," said Mrs. Lubinski, 62, who lives near the playground off Pittston Avenue, just over a mile from the industrial park.

"I don't think it's the right place to put it," said Janelle Jesikiewicz, 18. "There's a need for another clinic, but not in the borough."

Efforts to reach Discovery House Development Director Robert Kornacki were unsuccessful.

A proposal to open a methadone clinic in Plains Township several years ago also ran into public opposition. But a county judge overruled the township Zoning Board on appeal, allowing the opening of the clinic operated by Choices, a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program affiliated with the Wyoming Valley Health Care System.

The clinic has operated quietly for more than three years, treating nearly 400 people, Director Mary Martin has said.

Meanwhile, officials in two Lackawanna County boroughs have staunchly opposed methadone clinics in recent years.

Dickson City officials in 2002 followed a state mandate that requires municipalities to set aside an area for a methadone clinic. Borough Council designated an area adjacent to the former Wal-Mart building, about 1,200 feet north of Business Route 6, that was never used. They made it as far away from residential and commercial property as possible, citing fears that a clinic that treated heroin addicts would draw a criminal element to neighborhoods and devalue properties.

Similar strong opposition in 1999 kept New Directions Treatment Services, of Allentown, from opening a methadone clinic in Old Forge.

Contact the writer: jsylvester@timesshamrock.com


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