Approved amendment will give town a say in any future clinic plans
By MELINDA WILLIAMS
The “methadone clinic” that plans to set up shop in the town of Pulaski has completed its initial phase in the licensing process.
Les Saltzberg, director of licensing for Virginia Department of Health and Developmental Services (VDHDS), said Pulaski Medical LLC completed the first phase Oct. 12. The next phase is submission of policies and procedures.
Applicants usually have up to a year to submit their policies and procedures. The VDHDS review generally takes one to four months to complete, “dependent upon the number of corrections needed,” according to Saltzberg.
The third, and final, phase before approval or denial would be a site visit.
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 was notified of the application in December 2011 and, along with Pulaski County, has filed objections to the proposal.
Since the clinic is consistent with town zoning requirements at the time the application was filed, local officials are doubtful they can do anything to stop it. However, a zoning amendment approved by Pulaski Town Council Tuesday night will give it a say if any future clinics apply for a license to operate in town.
Under the new zoning requirements, “medical clinics” would be separately defined from “outpatient mental health and substance abuse clinics.” In this case, methadone or opioid clinics would be classified as a substance abuse clinic.
“Medical clinics,” such as family physician offices, would be allowed “by right” in Residential Office (RO), Local Business (B-1 and B-2) and Central Business (B-3) districts, and by special exception in Residential (R-1 and R-2) and Multi-Family (R-3) districts.
“Outpatient mental health and substance abuse clinics,” on the other hand, would be limited to B-2 districts and by special exception only. That means a public hearing and review by the planning commission and town council would be required before council voted to approve or deny the applicant’s petition to locate a clinic in a B-2 district.
Before the ordinance was amended Tuesday night, medical clinics as a whole were allowed as a “use by right” in the B-2 district in which Pulaski Medical LLC intends to locate.
If approved for licensing, the clinic will 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.