Warren ZBA continues methadone clinic scrutiny
Warren — The debate went on Sept. 11 over the proposed methadone clinic with the Zoning Board of Appeals' review of the planning board's "Findings of Fact."
The zoning board met for the second consecutive month to review the planning board's approval of a methadone clinic to be owned and operated by CRC Recovery Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., in a building owned by Robert Emery Jr. on Short Street in Warren.
Tuesday night's meeting at the Warren Community School was a continuation of a meeting of Aug. 16, and the board voted after nearly three hours of discussion to continue again, Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at the town office.
Board attorney William Kelly conducted most of the meeting as the group went over the findings one by one and took positions on each point by voting on individual motions.
"This was the first part of our review of the Site Plan Review," Kelly said after the meeting. "I think we made a dent in it."
"At our next meeting we will focus on the rest of this document and look at the large facilities ordinance," he said.
The zoning board finally will conduct a "de novo" review, or new review from the start, that will include looking at all the evidence and not just the planning board's findings, Kelly explained.
At issue Tuesday night was a 40-page document known as the "Town of Warren Planning Board Findings of Fact" that contains the standards for approval of the Site Plan Review Ordinance.
Kelly explained to zoning board members that their job was not to replace the planning board's decisions, but rather to review the document and decide whether the planning board did the process properly.
His advice followed a discussion lead by board member Carol Courtenay over whether the Maine Department of Transportation conducted the right kind of traffic survey.
Courtenay said the DOT study was based on strips of tape placed in the road. The study should have been based on actual traffic counts at specific times and should have included winter driving conditions in snow and ice.
Neighbors had raised concerns about the amount of traffic that would be generated by the clinic on Short Street.
Robert Carter Jr., zoning board vice chairman, agreed that some of the numbers in the DOT study raised questions.
Overall, the board considered planning board approval of standards for air and water pollution, soil erosion, solid waste and sewage disposal, scenic and natural beauty, the Comprehensive Plan and Ordinance, 100-year flood elevation, relationship of structure (Emery building) to the environment, glare, excessive noise at unreasonable hours, and performance guarantees.
The zoning board plans to continue its review on Oct. 4 starting with the Large Facilities Ordinance, location criteria, including a look at the effect of the clinic on the 17 residences within 500 feet of the proposed clinic, and reasonable accommodation and accompanying memorandum of understanding.
Attorneys representing interested parties who attended the meeting were James Strong, representing the neighbors of the proposed clinic, and Walter McKee, representing CRC.
The town is still involved in a lawsuit over the clinic. CRC's federal lawsuit against the town over the blocking of the methadone clinic remains active. The town has filed a motion in the case seeking to enforce the settlement agreement. The town had previously agreed to settle the case with CRC for $320,000, but the point of contention was a memorandum of understanding signed at the time stating that the town would grant the company the needed permits.
The planning board had approved the project, but it is now in appeal, and CRC is still seeking approval from the Warren Sanitary District.
Oral arguments on the motion will be heard Sept. 17 at U.S. District Court in Portland.
Kelly advised the zoning board to consider the memorandum of agreement at the Oct. 4 meeting.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or firstname.lastname@example.org.