EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 5, 2014

Plaistow officials prepare for methadone clinic

Facility slated to open in late spring in Plaistow

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW — Town officials are continuing to prepare for a methadone clinic to open in Haverhill on the Plaistow line.

Police Chief Stephen Savage and Building Inspector Mike Dorman have been to the site in recent weeks, looking to curb any potential problems.

“We haven’t been told when it’s opening,” Savage said. “I’ve been down there looking to see if there is any activity, but there’s nothing yet.”

In January, Haverhill denied Spectrum Health Systems an occupancy permit to open a methadone clinic on Plaistow Road. That ruling was appealed.

In an emergency hearing last month in Newburyport Superior Court, a judge advised the city it would likely lose the case.

Kurt Isaacson, Chief Operating Officer of Spectrum, said the clinic is getting ready to open.

“We anticipate opening our doors to clients by late spring,” he said. “We are appreciative of the cooperation of the city officials.”

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said when the clinic opens, Plaistow officials will be keeping a keen eye on Stateline Plaza, which is next to the clinic.

“We have an existing site plan with the plaza which has conditions approved by the Planning Board when it comes to parking,” he said. “If parking is overwhelmed, then we create threats to safety. We have to consider traffic flow and how other businesses will be impacted.”

Fitzgerald said the town continues to be in contact with Haverhill regarding the clinic.

“We are working in partnership to make sure we coordinate strategically,” he said. “There is recognition that we will need to continue to cooperate to address the impact of this type of business.”

Plaistow selectmen sent a letter to Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini last month, voicing their opposition to the clinic. Fiorentini responded recently, thanking selectmen for their concerns and said he would continue to work with the town to monitor the clinic.

Fitzgerald said he is still frustrated with how Spectrum was allowed to occupy the building at 100 Plaistow Road.

Under a Massachusetts ruling, Spectrum was recognized as an educational corporation. The Dover Amendment, another Massachusetts law, prohibits zoning ordinances from regulating structures which are owned by nonprofit educational corporations.

“We don’t deny that there is a component which is educational,” he said. “We just feel there is a loophole that certainly wasn’t meant to create the logistical issues which it may pose.”