OXFORD – Town officials are working with officials from other nearby communities to write emergency legislation that would strengthen the state’s hand in the licensing and oversight of methadone clinics, Michael Chammings, Oxford town manager, said Thursday.

“We are pushing for this legislation so the state will have stronger control of the licensing of these facilities,” Chammings said at a regular meeting of the Oxford Board of Selectmen.

Oxford is working with other towns, including Norway and South Paris, to develop the legislation. Chammings told selectmen he also has met with officials of the Maine Municipal Association to support the towns in their efforts to have the legislation passed. “I have spoken to the MMA about this and they have said this is a priority with its legal staff to help us get this through,” he said.

Legislation that gives the state more control over methadone clinics could help Oxford and other towns avoid federal lawsuits similar to one filed in March against the city of Rockland. Turning Tide Inc., a company seeking to open a methadone clinic there, filed the suit claiming the city violated federal disability laws when it changed its zoning, forcing the clinic to a remote part of the city.

Last year the company signed a lease to open a clinic in downtown Rockland. After residents protested, city officials made zoning changes that would allow methadone clinics only in a remote part of the city.

Methadone is used to wean heroin addicts off the drug. Chammings said a company has looked at Oxford and other nearby towns as potential sites for a methadone clinic. He declined to identify the company.

He emphasized that Oxford is not trying to prevent methadone clinics from locating in the town. “We are not trying to zone them out,” he said. “We just want reasonable controls and oversight.”

Oxford already has a moratorium in place that prevents a company from applying for a methadone clinic for 180 days, giving town officials time to review zoning ordinances.

In other business, Chammings said the town currently has $1.5 million in cash flow. “Our cash flow is good. This is the first year we won’t need to borrow money,” he said. “Our projections don’t indicate we need to do that.”

Chammings said the town’s switch this year to a fiscal year cycle versus a calendar year cycle is the primary reason the town will not need to borrow money.


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