The Freeport Town Council will consider an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would limit the location of opioid treatment facilities to Commercial District IV, in the vicinity of Desert Road and with nearby access to Interstate 295.

The purpose of the ordinance amendment, recommended to the Town Council last Wednesday night by the Planning Board, is “to provide suitable locations for uses which require nearby major highway connections and public utility services. Uses are designed to serve both local and regional markets and regulations are included to protect abutting residential uses and districts.”

The issue, which has generated scant public interest, places limitations on such facilities, which provide methadone and Subuxone to people with heroin and other opiod addictions. Six residents showed up for the June 29 Planning Board public hearing, and no one from the public attended the previous Planning Board meeting, during which the board made public its definitions. Chairwoman Wendy Caisse and Donna Larson, town planner, visited opioid facilities in southern Maine a few weeks ago to learn more regarding their practices.

Larson said Thursday that she is not sure when the Town Council will take up the Planning Board’s suggested zoning amendment. She told the audience Wednesday night that opioid practices are not “pressing issues” in Freeport – yet.

“There is no application,” Larson said. “Quite frankly, I think it’s very unlikely we would get a request. I don’t think the population base is strong enough.”

Still, Dale and Diane Inman, who live in Commercial District IV on Hunter Road, brought with them to Wednesday’s public hearing a comprehensive list of questions, including why Desert Road is the board’s choice for an opioid clinic.

“Who will pay for the need to improve the bridge over 295?” one question began. “Since Exit 20 already has significant traffic from the ball fields (which was never addressed when the fields were built), traffic entering Freeport for the shopping area, traffic from Maine Coast Waldorf School, traffic from the Desert of Maine, traffic from L.L. Bean’s Desert Road facility, traffic from school bus parking, traffic from the town maintenance facility and traffic from local commuters – any additional business growth should require bridge improvement. I do not think the town should pay to support the establishment of more businesses to Desert Road unless the businesses pick up the bill for the bridge.”

Larson said that staffers of the facilities she and Caisse visited said that the most important local consideration for an opioid treatment facility is access to the highway.

“You don’t just walk in off the street,” she said. “That district was chosen because it’s close to other commercial properties. And traffic over that bridge has actually been going down. It’s busy, but it’s not at capacity.”

Dale Inman and his wife, Diane, who live on Hunter Road, showed up early for last Wednesday night’s Planning Board public hearing on opioid facilities. The Inmans don’t believe the C-4 zone – where they live – is the right place for one, which is the board’s recommendation to the Town Council.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.