A Massachusetts-based substance abuse treatment provider wants to open a methadone clinic in Sanford.

Spectrum Health Systems Inc. would be the first operator of a methadone clinic in York County. It is the first organization to submit a methadone clinic application to Sanford since the town created an ordinance to control where the clinics could operate.

Spectrum Health Systems submitted its application last week for a license to operate an outpatient methadone clinic at 61 Eagle Drive, in the Sanford Industrial Park. The organization would construct a new building to serve as the clinic, which would provide methadone maintenance and counseling.

Methadone is a synthetic opiate that relieves cravings for drugs like heroin, morphine and oxycodone. Spectrum, based in Worcester, Mass., runs five methadone clinics in Massachusetts.

Spectrum chose Sanford after conversations with the state Office of Substance Abuse indicated there is a need for opioid treatment in western York County, said James Cohen, an attorney for the organization. There’s no target date for the clinic’s opening.

“It’s the first time we’ve been through it (in Sanford),” Cohen said. “Our practice is to be responsive but to make sure it’s done well, too.”

The expectation is that the clinic would operate from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekends and holidays, but the hours could be modified, Cohen said. A security guard would be present for the primary dosing hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., he said.

In 2007, Florida-based Colonial Management Group announced its interest in opening a clinic in Sanford’s Midtown Mall area. The news prompted concern among residents, business owners and town officials, and temporary bans on methadone clinics in Sanford.

The town then created an ordinance that allowed methadone clinics in its industrial zones but not downtown. Federal law forbids an outright ban on methadone clinics.

Spectrum’s proposal will require two public hearings before the Town Council and site plan review by the Planning Board, said Town Manager Mark Green. In Maine, methadone clinics operate in Bangor, Calais, Portland, South Portland, Waterville and Westbrook.

Town Council Chairman Gordon Paul opposed methadone clinics in the past and continues to have concerns.

“I’m not sure that a methadone clinic is the best use of our resources in the community. I’m not sure that we should just automatically approve a methadone clinic without asking a lot of questions,” Paul said, noting that he would keep an open mind.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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