Clinic foes pin hopes on Pa. Act 10
Efforts to block a proposed methadone clinic in Hampton are centering on a state law prohibiting the facilities near churches, homes, schools and playgrounds.
The only problem might be finding a church, home, school or playground close enough to bar the clinic’s opening.
About 100 people showed up Wednesday night at council chambers to sound off on Uniontown, Fayette County-based Addiction Services’ plans to open the facility on Route 8, just north of Wildwood Road.
“Why isn’t this clinic being set up where the people who will use it are from?” resident Patty Reeger said.
Methadone, a synthetic narcotic that helps addicts overcome their cravings, prevents the sickness associated with the withdrawal drug users experience. It is used to treat those addicted to opiates such as heroin and Oxycontin.
Addiction Services plans to open the clinic in the basement of the former ABC Glass Building. Council has approved a change-of-use request for the structure, but has yet to approve a final plan for the clinic. Council will conduct a public hearing on the issue Oct. 29 at a time and place to be determined.
Fast-food restaurants, auto shops and strip malls line Route 8 near the ABC building.
State Act 10 requires that no churches, homes, schools or playgrounds be within 500 feet of methadone clinics. None of those types of facilities appears to be near the ABC building.
But township officials plan to investigate whether a karate school in Conventry Square Mall, behind the ABC building, or a nearby history museum meet the description outlined by the law. Officials aren’t sure either is within 500 feet of the ABC building.
Township officials have said the clinic conforms to Hampton zoning requirements.
“We are obligated to follow the law. If nothing is within 500 feet, they will have to have an occupancy permit,” Council President M. Richard Dunlap said.
While residents say the clinic will draw in a criminal element from outside the township’s boundaries, Hampton police Chief Dan Connolly said heroin already has a firm grip on the area.
Admissions to methadone clinics in Allegheny County more than tripled between 1998 and 2002, from 569 to 1,943, according to the state Health Department.
“Heroin is becoming an increasing problem in the suburbs. It’s cheap and easy to get hold of,” Connolly said.
The clinic would be Allegheny County’s sixth, but the first outside the city of Pittsburgh.
Clinics that treat addicts with methadone are regulated and licensed by the state Department of Health, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.