Hearing on Detox Facility Continued to Next Month
WILMINGTON -- After more than five hours discussing the detox facility proposed for Middlesex Avenue Wednesday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals continued its hearing on the matter once again.
This was the first time the proposal was before the board since February, and many residents urged members to take a vote Wednesday night. But ultimately, the hearing was continued to Wednesday, Jan. 16.
ZBA member Anthony Barletta wanted a narrative to be submitted outlining exactly what the project will be. The board also asked Town Manager Jeff Hull to ask Police Chief Michael Begonis to get information on the security precautions other towns have in place at similar facilities.
Countless residents lined up all the way to the door of the Town Hall auditorium to speak at a microphone and urge the board not to approve the special permit for the proposed project. Many were angry, some were tearful and many pleaded for a vote they believe would protect their quality of life.
While Chairman Daniel Veerman and members Thomas Siracusa and Raymond Lepore said they were prepared to take a vote Wednesday night, Barletta and member Jacquelyn Santini said they were not.
“I want to bring this to a merciful close,” Veerman said. But Veerman also made it clear he would vote to continue the hearing if Santini and Barletta were not prepared to take a vote.
The proposal for a 48-bed drug and alcohol detox facility at 362 Middlesex Ave. has weighed heavy on the minds of many Wilmington residents for well over a year. Every other town department involved in the application process, including the Planning Board, Board of Health and the Engineering Division, have given their approval to the project. The final step is whatever decision the Zoning Board of Appeals will make.
At last December’s Special Town Meeting, a resident-driven petition article passed overwhelmingly to limit certain medical buildings, including detox facilities, to industrial zones. But this proposal is not impacted by that zoning bylaw change since it had already been submitted.
Because the proposal will be heard again next month, the public hearing was not closed. However, Veerman said the scope of discussion during January’s public hearing would be limited to the two reasons for continuing the hearing.
A number of residents said if the project were approved, they would move out of town. Many said they chose Wilmington to raise their families because of its small town feel.
“This is turning into a damn city and it’s really sickening,” one woman said.
Karen West, a longtime resident who works in real estate, spoke of the fear people have for their home values depreciating should the project be approved. West said people who leave will be forced to sell their homes at a lower price, while still having to face a market where home prices are soaring.
“They don’t want to lose everything that they’ve built up,” she said.
The Zoning Board did not decide to continue the hearing until about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.