Rockland panel approves methadone clinic at former Turning Tide site

Posted Nov. 16, 2011, at 7:20 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The city is moving closer to having a methadone treatment facility again after Rockland Planning Board members unanimously approved Tuesday night a national company’s application to open one at the former site of the Turning Tide clinic on New County Road.

City attorney Kevin Beal said Wednesday that the board found that Metro Treatment of Rockland’s application satisfied the city’s site plan requirements.

Company officials said at the meeting that it could take up to two months to “staff up and get licensure,” Beal said.

“They seem to want to communicate well with folks,” he said of those officials.

Turning Tide operated at the 166 New County Road location until federal drug agents shut it down in the summer of 2010 after citing threats to public health and safety.

Angel Fuller McMahan, who owned and ran Turning Tide, was arrested last August for possession of cocaine. After the shutdown of the clinic, city councilors determined that Fuller’s company had broken the rules of the contract zone the city had given her.

The City Council in September approved a zoning change that would allow for another clinic at that location but included a provision in the ordinance forbidding Fuller McMahan from having anything to do with such a business.

Metro Treatment of Rockland’s parent company is Colonial Management Group LP, which is based in Orlando, Fla. That company runs methadone treatment programs all over the country, including one in Bangor.

Metro Treatment would like to ultimately serve 400 clients in Rockland, which is more than the 200 or so clients served at Turning Tide.

The need for another methadone clinic is great, according to Guy Cousins of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, the agency which oversees Maine’s opiate treatment programs. Right now, the state has nine clinics, with three in Bangor, one in Calais, one in Waterville, one in Lewiston-Auburn and three in Portland.

“It’s not only burdensome for people to have to travel, it’s also more costly as well and there’s a higher propensity for people to drop out of the clinic,” he said Wednesday.

According to Cousins, state agencies have not yet received an application from Metro Treatment of Rockland. Before a methadone clinic can open in Maine, it must be approved by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Maine State Board of Pharmacy.

He didn’t want to speculate on a timeline until a new clinic could open because that is “hard to predict.”

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