LEWISTON — A Massachusetts company is proposing to build the city's first methadone substance-abuse-treatment facility on Mollison Way, near the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley.
Officials from Community Substance Abuse Centers of Quincy, Mass., have scheduled a neighborhood meeting for Mollison Way businesses and tenants at 6 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Ramada Inn on Pleasant Street.
Gil Arsenault, director of Planning and Code Enforcement for the city, said the operator would be the first to test the city's methadone center licensing rules.
Methadone is used to treat addiction to opioid drugs, such as heroin or OxyContin. Lewiston's methadone clinic rules were adopted in 2006 and require substance-abuse-treatment centers to get a business license from the city. That license must be approved by the City Council and is then reviewed annually by the City Council.
"The Council's concern at the time was that a well-run clinic could be OK, but some are not run terribly well," Arsenault said. "Licensing them allows them in many locations throughout the city, but gives them many different requirements they have to meet and other regulatory hoops."
The company has not filed any applications with the city yet, but has met with the city administrator and the police and fire chiefs, Arsenault said.
Bob Potter, vice president of development for Community Substance Abuse Centers, said he expects the company will file an application with the city next week.
Auburn City Administrator Ed Barrett said Lewiston's approach is different than in Bangor, where he worked as City Manager until Jan. 2010. Bangor has three methadone clinics and uses zoning codes to review them initially.
"Lewiston's approach gives the council a chance to check on them each year and evaluate the situation the business is in," Barrett said. Bangor eventually created a committee to monitor the clinics.
Lewiston's ordinance allows substance-abuse-treatment centers to be built as long as they are a minimum of 1,000 feet from churches, schools, parks or day care centers or facilities.
Community Substance Abuse Centers' proposal fits those criteria, Arsenault said. At 18 Mollison Way, it is 1,490 feet away from Levers Day Care, at 50 Mollison Way.
The company operates 11 clinics in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and a 12th at 2300 Congress St. in Portland.
Bob Potter, vice president of development for Community Substance Abuse Centers, said the Portland clinic currently treats several patients from Lewiston.
"They told us they know of several people who would seek treatment if it were more local," Potter said.
The company would employ 15 to 20 people, including doctors and nurses.
The center's philosophy is mostly medical. Potential patients receive a full medical examination, including blood tests, before beginning treatment.
"One is to gauge their medical condition," Potter said. "The second is testing for controlled substance."
Patients also receive counseling from the staff while they are being treated.
The company would provide the methadone in a drinkable form to patients, who take the medication under a nurse's supervision. They're blood pressure is monitored for the first few visits, and then they are free to leave.
Potter said the company would plan a public open house for Lewiston residents, if it is built.