Owner of shuttered Rockland methadone clinic seeking to expand client maximum

Posted Dec. 12, 2010, at 8:26 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — As she attempts to reopen or sell the shuttered Turning Tide methadone clinic, owner Angel Fuller McMahan is seeking permission from town officials to boost the number of clients the facility can serve to the 500 maximum that the state would allow.

Planning board members, however, are seeking more information about traffic patterns and parking before they decide whether to approve any changes to the current site plan.

A representative from Discovery House, an outpatient substance abuse treatment program, attended a recent planning board meeting and told members he would “love to have Turning Tide’s facility,” though neither he nor McMahan would confirm whether negotiations for such a sale were under way.

Discovery House operates methadone clinics in Bangor, Portland and Waterville.

The site plan would apply to whoever operates the methadone clinic at the New County Road location.

Methadone is a once-a-day medication used to treat opiate and narcotic drug addiction. It is designed to suppress the addict’s cravings and withdrawal symptoms without the high.

Federal law enforcement officials shut down the Rockland methadone clinic on Aug. 19, citing unspecified threats to public health and safety, less than a month after McMahan was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine.

During a planning board meeting on Nov. 30, chairman Erik Laustsen said that parking for the clinic was based on the facility serving about 160 clients, but that recent data indicate the clinic last served about 273 clients.

“That’s a huge jump,” Laustsen said. “I had no idea it had increased as much as that.”

He and others on the board questioned whether the existing site plan and 29 parking spaces were sufficient to accommodate up to 500 clients.

McMahan’s attorney, Jay McCloskey, told the board members, “We think that the parking is adequate to accommodate any new business and the maximum number of clients who might come to the clinic.”

Board member Peta vanVuuren cited area residents’ complaints about the clinic’s clients backing their vehicles into Route 1.

“We have reports that there was overflow,” vanVuuren said.

McMahan said her business had worked to spread out methadone clinic appointments so the client flow would be steady. As for backing into the major roadway, McMahan said someone likely was coming into the driveway as someone else was coming out and so one of them backed out into the breakdown lane.

Laustsen suggested McMahan adjust the clinic’s traffic flow patterns to help “make this parking situation adequate.”

The site plan revision will be revisited at the planning board’s next meeting, on Jan. 4.

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