OXFORD – The state Legislative Council has accepted an appeal by the towns of Oxford, Norway and Paris to examine legislation that would give the state tighter control over the licensing methadone clinics, Town Manager Michael Chammings said Thursday.

Also, the Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 at its regular meeting to extend the town’s current moratorium on such clinics by another 180 days to give the town more time to work on the issue. Board Chairman Floyd Thayer was not present at the meeting.

Oxford’s current moratorium expires Dec. 20.

There was no comment from residents at a public hearing held before the start of the meeting to receive input on the moratorium extension before selectmen voted. Fewer than 10 residents attended.

Chammings said he was notified via e-mail earlier Thursday by the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments that the Legislative Council had accepted the draft legislation on appeal. The legislation was initially drafted as emergency legislation by the three towns but was passed over by the state Legislature.

The towns appealed, and it will now go before the full Legislature but without an emergency preamble.

Fergus Lea, a planner from AVCOG, told town managers in the e-mail that because it will not have an emergency preamble, “it would become effective 90 days after the governor signs it. That would probably give a window between the moratoria expiring and the legislation becoming effective, but we should be able to deal with that.”

Oxford, Norway and Paris have been considered as potential sites for methadone clinics, which treat people addicted to opiates such as heroin and OxyContin.

The three towns first passed moratoriums on clinics last summer to halt any immediate development and give them time to review their zoning ordinances. The towns have argued that they do not want to ban methadone clinics, but they want better control over the licensing of such facilities.

“We have been working on this together,” Chammings said. “We have been sharing legal costs, we have had at least six meetings, and we have submitted legislation to the state.”

The towns’ ability to manage methadone clinics is limited by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which prompted them to develop emergency legislation to send to the state. The Maine Municipal Association has been assisting the towns in their efforts.

By law, municipalities cannot pass a development moratorium that exceeds 180 days. However, a moratorium may be extended for an additional 180 days if the municipality finds that the problem necessitating it still exists and that reasonable progress is being made to alleviate the problem.


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