By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Six months after the town was notified of a potential “methadone clinic” locating in Pulaski, nothing has changed in the licensing process, a state official said.
Les Saltzberg, director of licensing for Virginia Department of Health and Developmental Services, said the licensing process for Pulaski Medical LLC is still in the initial application process. Two more steps must be taken before a license can be approved, he added.
Gary Gavornik of Easton, Pa. has filed with VDHDS for a license to operate an “opioid treatment center” in the Pulaski Mall unit formerly occupied by Pulaski Drugs and New River Valley Community Services.
The town of Pulaski was notified of the application in December and, along with Pulaski County, has filed objections to the proposal. However, since the clinic is consistent with town zoning and other requirements, officials are doubtful they can do anything to stop it.
The property is zoned B-2, General Business, which allows medical clinics as a “use by right.” If the zoning ordinance required that medical clinics be allowed by “special exception,” the town would have more control over the matter since it would be able to place conditions beyond what is required by the ordinance.
It also appears to meet required distances from schools and licensed day care facilities, according to Hawley.
Saltzberg said Thursday the licensing process can take from three months to a year dependent upon how quickly the applicant provides necessary information and the quality of the information provided.
After the initial application is filed, he said the second step in the process is for the applicant to file policy and procedures for the clinic. Once those are approved, the third step consists of a site visit.
Asked whether VDHDS would be notified if the applicant decided not to pursue a license, Saltzberg said some applicants notify them and others don’t.
Once a year has passed without any contact from the applicant, the file is closed. “That happens about 20 percent of the time,” he said.
If approved, the clinic would dispense medications, including methadone, to persons with addictions to opiate drugs such as heroine and pain relievers like OxyContin, morphine, Dilaudid and Percocet. The goal is to wean the person off drugs.
A building permit was requested by the property owner for a commercial rehabilitation of the store space in October.
Pulaski Mall is owned by RAS Properties, which is owned by Robert Strenz, a former member of Pulaski’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority.