Lawsuit over proposed methadone clinic in former Warren school to go to trial

Posted Nov. 06, 2012, at 10:39 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The trial against the town of Warren by a company that wanted to open a methadone clinic is set for July 1.

The scheduling order for the case of CRC Health Group Inc. against the Knox County town was issued Oct. 16 by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Rich III.

The order notes that no jury trial has been sought, which means a federal judge would rule on the merits of the case.

Warren had agreed to a settlement with CRC last year but the California-based company asked for the case to be put back on the schedule after months of planning board review. The Warren Planning Board approved the project but neighbors to the proposed clinic at the intersection of Route 1 and Short Street filed an appeal before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The Warren Sanitary District also had not given its approval for a permit for the clinic.

In the tentative September 2011 settlement, the town’s insurance company had agreed to pay all but $1 of the $320,000 payout to CRC. No dollar estimate has been given on potential damages if the court were to side with CRC. The town, however, had to agree to review and decide on the project within a designated time frame that was far surpassed.

The issue arose in September 2010 when developer Bob Emery of Vixen Land Holdings Inc. tried to purchase the former Warren Primary School from Warren, telling officials it would be rented as office space. When the public learned that CRC Health Group planned to use the school for a methadone clinic, the town rescinded its purchase and sales agreement with Emery.

Residents voted in December 2010 for a moratorium against methadone clinics to allow the town time to adopt land ordinances regulating such businesses.

CRC filed its lawsuit in May 2011, claiming the town’s actions were discriminatory because drug addicts are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The proposed clinic has divided the town. Four planning board members resigned earlier this year including longtime Board Chairman Peter Krakoff.

Voters agreed overwhelmingly in September to set aside $60,000 more to handle the legal matters surrounding the clinic.

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