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 State court rules against methadone clinic restriction law

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Age : 45
Location : live in Louisiana but attend MMT clinic in Tx
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Registration date : 2009-05-25

PostSubject: State court rules against methadone clinic restriction law   Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:58 am

State court rules against methadone clinic restriction law

By Terrie Morgan-Besecker

DUNMORE – A state appellate court has struck down an ordinance that restricted the location of methadone clinics with the borough, finding that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a ruling issued Thursday, the Commonwealth Court said Dunmore’s ordinance was so restrictive that it prevented a methadone clinic from operating anywhere within the borough.

The ruling stemmed from a challenge filed by Habit OPCO of Boston, which sought to open a clinic in a commercial district on Monahan Avenue. The borough denied the company’s application based on a zoning ordinance that regulated where drug treatment centers could locate.

The ordinance permitted methadone clinics to operate within a commercial district, but set additional restrictions such clinics had to meet. Among the restrictions was that a clinic could not operate within 1,000 feet from an existing structure.

Habit OPCO argued the ordinance was exclusionary per se because there was no place within the borough where there was at lest 1,000 feet from an existing structure.

In its ruling, the Commonwealth Court noted the borough acknowledged there was no plot in the borough that met the setback requirements. The court found the borough had failed to provide any other justifiable reason for the “complete exclusion” of methadone clinics.

The court ruling overturns a decision by a Lackawanna County judge. The case will now return to the county court for reconsideration.

Habit OPCO also has a federal lawsuit pending against the borough relating to the ordinance.

That suit, filed in January, seeks a permanent injunction that would prevent the borough from enforcing the ordinance, as well as compensatory damages for lost business. It was not clear Thursday if the Commonwealth Court ruling will impact that case.

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