EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

February 3, 2014

Methadone clinic to open this week

Judge: Tells Haverhill to give up fight to stop clinic on the Plaistow line

HAVERHILL — The city has given up its fight to prevent a methadone dispensary from opening in a busy commercial area on the Plaistow, N.H. border. Methadone is a synthetic drug that is used to treat addicts suffering from heroin and other opiate withdrawal.

At an emergency court hearing late Friday in Newburyport Superior Court, a judge advised the city it would likely lose the case be forced to pay substantial monetary damages to Spectrum Health Systems. The nonprofit health care provider plans to open the clinic at 100 Plaistow Road as soon as this week.

According to an agreement between Spectrum and Haverhill reached at Friday’s court hearing, the city’s building inspector will give the company a certificate to open the clinic no later than noon today.

City Solicitor William Cox said it is his understanding that Spectrum has an agreement with Massachusetts public health officials that it will open the clinic by Thursday.

Friday’s court hearing was the same day Haverhill learned that another nonprofit health care provider was granted one of 20 provisional state licenses to operate a medical marijuana dispensary on Hale Street near the city’s downtown.

Residents and elected officials in Haverhill and Plaistow opposed the clinic and its location in a commercial area packed with restaurants and other businesses.

In recent weeks, the Plaistow Board of Selectmen voted to oppose the clinic and Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he was against the location. Resident opposition included an online petition signed by more than 250 people.

In August, Spectrum began renovating the former Children’s Learning Center day care for the clinic. It requested an occupancy permit from the city last month to open, but Building Inspector Richard Osborne denied the request on zoning grounds.

Osborne said at the time that he granted Spectrum a building permit to begin renovating the site last summer based on information from the company that it planned to use the building for business and education above grade 12. He said he learned only after granting the building permit that Spectrum planned to use the building as a clinic for “health care services including drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation.”

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