Drug clinic arrival likely
A martial arts school and a history museum do not qualify as the types of establishments that under state law could prevent a methadone clinic from being built in Hampton, a state Health Department spokesman said Thursday.
“In the end, this is a local issue,” spokesman Richard McGarvey said.
A state law known as Act 10 gives municipalities the right to prohibit construction of methadone clinics if they would be within 500 feet of a home, church, school, child-care center or playground.
The proposed Hampton clinic, which would be run by Addiction Specialists Inc., would be on Route 8 just north of Wildwood Road. It has drawn vociferous opposition from many residents, with about 100 showing up at recent council meetings to urge officials to block the clinic.
Opponents wondered whether a martial arts studio in the nearby Coventry Square shopping plaza or the Depreciation Lands Museum would qualify as legal impediments.
“It does not appear to us that either of those establishments would qualify under Act 10 requirements,” McGarvey said.
Township officials have said nothing can be done to block the clinic as long as it complies with local zoning laws, which they believe it does. Municipalities are not required to prohibit clinics that fall within the limits set by the state law, but “we are not aware of any municipality in the state giving an exemption to Act 10 requirements,” McGarvey said.
Hampton Council president Richard Dunlap said any improperly taken vote on the matter likely would be successfully challenged in court.
“We are bound by what the ordinance was at the time that this company applied,” he said.
Methadone, a synthetic narcotic, helps heroin addicts overcome their cravings, preventing the sickness associated with withdrawal. The clinic would draw clients from a radius as large as 30 miles, said its director, Roz Sugarmann, who has worked as a drug and alcohol therapist for two decades. It would be open from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Residents expressed concern that the center would increase crime in the area.
The Hampton clinic would be the sixth in Allegheny County, but the first outside Pittsburgh. The five in the city are at 1391 Washington Blvd., 1425 Beaver Ave., 729 Ensign St., 2900 Smallman St. and 6714 Kelly St.
A methadone clinic also is located in Cranberry, Butler County.
Heroin addiction rates in Allegheny and Butler counties have risen sharply in recent years, officials said.