WARREN, Maine — The nearly two-year battle over a proposed methadone clinic reached a milestone Tuesday night when the town planning board approved the project that has been met with strong opposition from neighbors.
The board voted 3-2 to give overall approval to the CRC Health project after it narrowly agreed that it was a reasonable accommodation to waive the 500-foot setback from the nearest residences. The board also agreed that CRC’s agreement to construct a 600-foot sidewalk on Short Street would alleviate concerns it had over the impact on pedestrian safety.
The Tuesday night vote may not end the lengthy debate over whether a methadone clinic should operate at 1767 Atlantic Highway (Route 1). Several neighbors have hired attorney James Strong of Thomaston to represent them at the planning board meetings and an appeal to the zoning board of appeals could be made.
CRC must also get approval from the Warren Sanitary District for its sewage disposal.
The Tuesday vote follows a rancorous meeting on Thursday night when the board voted that CRC’s plan failed to meet the pedestrian safety standards of the town’s ordinances and did not meet the 500-foot setback requirement.
Two Knox County deputies attended the meeting at the request of the town. Planning Board Chairman Peter Krakoff warned those in attendance that he would not abide by the behavior at the previous meeting, in which a couple residents, including Selectman Michael York, refused to stop speaking when told to by Krakoff. The chairman said if anyone failed to stop speaking when told they would be escorted out by deputies.
There was no public comment at the Tuesday night meeting.
The board vote came after a five minute closed-door session with its attorney, Paul Gibbons.
CRC Health attorney Walter McKee said that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodations be provided for protected classes such as people using methadone.
Board members Melody Sainio and David George voted against ruling that it was a reasonable accommodation to waive the 500-foot setback.
In the vote on the final approval, Sainio and Albert Overlock voted against the plan.
Thursday is the deadline for CRC and the town to decide whether to settle the federal lawsuit brought by CRC for violations of the ADA.