Waveland P & Z opposes methadone clinic project
By Dwayne Bremer
Jul 29, 2014, 20:26
The Waveland Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday recommended denial of a company's proposal to bring a methadone clinic to the city.
Officials from Colonial Management Group appeared before the commission on Monday and asked for a conditional-use permit for an outpatient methadone clinic which would be placed at the Waveland Professional Plaza, located behind Sonic on Highway 90.
Colonial Director of Development James Skully said that his company operates several methadone clinics across the country.
He said that Colonial had recently been approached by the state to open a clinic on the Gulf Coast.
"Our goal is to facilitate and rehabilitate people who are addicted to opiates or heroin," Skully said. "We are not a pharmacy."
Skully said the clinic would treat people from Waveland and surrounding areas, including Gulfport and Biloxi.
He said the clinic would benefit the community because it would bring jobs and help addicts get their lives back in order.
He said a methadone clinic is often stereotyped as a place for unsavory people, but that is often not the case. Methadone treatment consists of a doctor prescribing methadone to help ween addicts off of a particular drug.
Methadone is a different drug than methamphetamine. Methadone treatments are considered a safe alternative to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal, Skully said.
"There are a lot of people who are addicted to pain-killers," he said. "A lot of these people are ordinary people. There are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and family members who go to these types of clinics."
Commissioner Jay Fountain said he was concerned about how many out-of-town people would be traveling to the clinic.
"What happens when these people come here and you are closed?" Fountain said. "Do you screen your patients? We have a lot of kids hanging out in that area because of Sonic and the water park across the street."
Commissioner Clarence Harris asked if the company had done a study on how many addicts may be in Waveland.
"Is there really a need for this here?" Harris asked. "
Skully said the clinic would have security and that his company has not had any instances of crime.
"The people who will be coming here are coming here to get help, not get a fix," he said.
After an extended discussion, the commission denied Colonial's request by a 3-0 vote.
Commission Chairman Roger Estopinol said the commission felt there was not enough benefit to the city and there was a possibility of a negative impact on the city if the clinic were allowed to move here.
The commission's decision, however, is a recommendation only.
Colonial can still appear before the board of aldermen and seek approval.