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Wilmington Will Hear Detox Plan in October

September 9, 2018

WILMINGTON -- After being postponed three times, the hearing on the proposed detox facility is set to take place Wednesday, Oct. 10. The next Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the matter was scheduled for Wednesday initially.

The last ZBA public hearing on the proposal for 362 Middlesex Ave. occured on Feb. 14. Residents packed the Town Hall auditorium and lined up at the microphone to vehemently opposed the location. Between questions from the Board of Appeals to the representatives of the proposal and questions from residents, that February hearing lasted more than three hours.

A hearing before the Planning Board was also scheduled for Tuesday, but has been continued to Tuesday, Oct. 2, according to director of Planning and Conservation Valerie Gingrich.

According to Toni LaRivee, secretary to the Board of Appeals, new information will be presented to the ZBA; residents will have an opportunity to speak until the hearing is closed. Areas like updates to the site plan and traffic study are anticipated to be covered, LaRivee said.

Gingrich said the representatives from the project are looking for approval for a definitive subdivision, site plan review and a stormwater management permit from the Planning Board.

At the last ZBA meeting, representatives for the project were seeking a special permit to begin the development. ZBA Chair Daniel Veerman emphasized at the last meeting that the board is simply looking at the site use.

The proposal is looking to construct a 48-bed rehabilitation center to help those with drug and alcohol addiction.

When the idea for the proposal circulated in town last year, residents called for a special Town Meeting in December. The petition article, led by Selectman Mike McCoy, was approved. The article sought to limit zoning for medical facilities requiring an overnight stay, including detox centers, to industrial zones. This change in the zoning bylaw will not impact zoning for the proposed detox facility at 362 Middlesex Ave.

While most residents voted in favor of the zoning change, many spoke in opposition, saying it was discriminatory and that beds are desperately needed to address the opioid crisis.

In June, the Attorney General’s office approved the zoning article, but recommended the town do additional work to ensure it is legal.

McCoy said he plans to attend all the meetings relative to the proposal.

“There’s a serious safety issue out there and it’s the job of the Board of Appeals to protect the neighbors,” McCoy said. “It’s not harmonious to the neighborhood.”

Residents, including McCoy, said 362 Middlesex Ave. is a poor location for a detox facility because it is near railroad tracks, close to a school, across the street from a liquor store and near a residential area. But, representatives for the project have insisted the goal is to create a facility that will do good in the town.

“The message is loud and clear,” McCoy said. “The residents do not want this.”

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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