Most Scarborough town councilors agree they do not want a methadone clinic in town, but exactly how to dissuade interested organizations is a matter of debate.

Some councilors would like to amend the current proposal to make it stricter. Others believe the town would be better off simply banning the businesses and waiting to see if anyone sues the town under a state law that bars towns from completely banning any particular type of business. Still other councilors have not decided how they will vote on the issue.

The council will vote on ordinance changes that would regulate methadone clinics and related zoning changes during its Wednesday meeting, after the Current’s deadline.

If adopted, the new zone would allow methadone clinics to be built in industrial zones. There are now three of those areas, in the town’s industrial park off Route 1, an area off Pleasant Hill Road, and the industrial area between I-295 and Mussey Road/Broadway.

Included are some specific requirements. The definition requires that the facility’s entrance must more than 1,000 feet to the nearest residential boundary line. Additionally, the entrance of the facility must be more than 500 feet away to the nearest property boundary occupied by a home, school, playground, park, day care or nursery school.

The new zone is in response to a request the town received from an unidentified company exploring the possibility of building a methadone clinic in Scarborough. Shortly thereafter the town placed a moratorium on the construction of methadone clinics and began revamping its ordinances to better accommodate them.

Councilor Patrick O’Reilly opposes the present proposal. “I can’t vote for it as it stands,” he said, adding if it were made stricter he would consider approving it.

Council Chairman Jeffrey Messer said there are clinics in both Westbrook and South Portland and questioned if there even is a need for one in Scarborough. In addition, the town is providing a number of services for the Greater Portland area such as hosting the expanded RWS ashfill and a post office distribution center, he said.

Councilor Steve Ross wants to know what neighboring towns are doing to regulate methadone clinics so Scarborough does become the only town that allows them.

“Certainly if Scarborough is going to have one we want it well away from residences,” Ross said.

Councilor Shawn Babine said he would support the amendment reluctantly, but would like to see the clinic required to be farther from residences and the road.

“For me it’s the avoidance of a lawsuit,” he said.

Councilor Sylvia Most agreed, saying the town should pass an ordinance in order to avoid the possibility of any litigation.

“We got advice from an attorney that it’s not legal to expressly prohibit these from our community,” she said, adding that the town has a fairly restrictive proposal. “I personally don’t prefer us to get sued any more than we have to.”

In other business, the council also will decide whether or not to allow RJ Grondin and Sons to remove 30,000 cubic yards of material from its property on Beech Ridge Road for work on the Scarborough Gallery Wal-Mart construction project, and take some 30,000 cubic yards of material from that site and store it on their property.

Grondin is currently requesting a contract zone from the town in order to turn the 290-acre property, which includes sand and gravel pits, into a wetland bank by creating natural habitat.

If approved, the approximately 50 acres of wetlands that are proposed for construction will be sold to developers who need to mitigate wetland impacts that occur during construction.

Once the project is completed, Grondin plans on donating the property to an as-yet unidentified non-profit land preservation organization.

The contract zone is now being handled by the Planning Board, but Town Manager Ron Owens said work on it is nearly complete and it could be ready for a Town Council vote in December or January.

Finally, the council will decide whether or not to request bids for an automated trash pick-up system. The purpose of the bids is to get a better idea of how much it would cost the town to implement the programs.

“We need more concrete numbers for further consideration,” said Messer, adding that he is not necessarily in favor of the idea.

Current estimates indicate it would cost $800,000 to purchase the necessary barrels and another $150,000 to run the program annually, costs that may be partially offset by higher recycling rates.


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