>I was a little surprised to see that the Independent has chimed in already on the methadone clinic in Middletown. Usually due to the nature of it’s weekly publication it lags behind a week or so of the currentness cycle.
Middletown residents packed town hall on June 20 and demanded that the township revoke the certificate of occupancy (CO) of a methadone clinic, which has been legally operating near Apple Farm Road for several months.
The clinic, Middletown Medical, located on Route 35, which, according to its website, counsels opiate addicts and dispenses methadone to wean them off their dependence, has residents fearing for the integrity of their neighborhood.
“The location of the clinic jeopardizes our safety, the safety of our homes and most importantly, the safety of those who actively walk, run, drive or play in our neighborhood,” resident Diane Mullaney said at the Township Committee meeting.
Mullaney said that the clinic is near a school bus stop, senior center and the neighborhood’s only entrance and exit road. “Ultimately, the township neglected to keep the best interest of our neighborhood in their decision,” she said….
“The [state’s] municipal land use law … was amended a decade ago to specifically designate methadone clinics as business uses, allowing municipalities to only ban them from residential zones,” Township Attorney Brian Nelson advised.
Because the clinic is located on Route 35 in a business district, this law stifles any legal recourse from the township, Nelson said.
“Neither the mayor nor the governing body members were particularly pleased with this answer,” Nelson said.
“If you’re asking for us to pull the CO, which is what it sounds like you’re asking, we can’t legally do it,” Mayor Anthony Fiore said to residents.
“If you’re asking to put the township at risk for amajor lawsuit to do so, I don’t think that’s our fiduciary responsibility when we’re told by legal counsel that we won’t win.”…
“Nobody other than the zoning officer and code officials receive notice of these CO’s.”
Mercantante said that similar transfers happen every day.
“No member of this committee, including myself, had any knowledge that this facility was a methadone clinic,” Fiore said….
“I don’t want this business in Middletown, and I don’t think anyone else wants this business in Middletown. However, Route 35 is a state highway and it is a state business zone,” Fiore said.
“None of the committee is happy about this; in a best-case scenario, it’s terrible,” said Committeeman Steven Massell….
“We can control everything with respect to making sure that they are operating in a legal fashion and that they’re not going to cause those quality-of-life issues that you mention,” Fiore said.
“That’s our job. That’s our priority as a township committee, and we will do that.”…
Fiore said that the township also relies on the vigilance of neighborhood residents to help police.
“This is a huge township. You’re the eyes and ears, and if you see something there, we need to know about it,” he said.