County pulls back use permit for Pikesville methadone clinic

March 22, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County has rescinded a permit for one of two planned methadone clinics in Pikesville, at least temporarily halting its licensing by the state.

County development officials said yesterday that they have pulled the use-and-occupancy permit for START (Success Through Acceptable Rehabilitative Treatment), which wants to open a methadone clinic at an abandoned gas station at 110 Reisterstown Road.

The operators of the program failed to submit an acceptable parking plan for the facility, county officials said.

"If they can do that, it could be a relatively simple matter, then they'll get the permit," said Arnold Jablon, director of the county's Department of Permits and Development Management. "If they don't, they won't."

Chip Silverman, a START consultant, said his clients will work to meet the county parking standards. Yet Silverman called the rescinding of the permit "harassment."

"I think they're going to try to find a way to not let that facility open," Silverman said.

If the matter can't be resolved, the state will not issue a license to the facility, state officials said.

"If the county doesn't give them the specific permit, we can't give them the license," said J.B. Hanson, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

START is one of two methadone programs that want to open within a half-mile of each other in Pikesville. Outraged Pikesville residents are opposing the clinics, saying they will attract hundreds of addicts to their neighborhood.

Methadone is a legal narcotic that is used to wean heroin addicts from their addictions by controlling withdrawal symptoms. The second clinic, Helping Hand, is seeking a state license to open at 116 Slade Ave.

On Wednesday afternoon, neighborhood leaders met with top state health officials to express their concerns about the clinics. Meeting participants said state health secretary, Dr. Georges Benjamin, listened to their arguments but did not indicate how the state will respond.

Neighborhood leaders asked Benjamin to hold off licensing the facilities for at least 90 days, a request he would not commit to, they said. Benjamin told the group that he would allow the department's licensing division to make the final determination on the clinics.

"The bottom line was that we asked for a 90-day stay, and he said he wasn't willing to make a decision on that," said Reva Bounan, president of the Ralston Community Association. "He wanted us to understand that he doesn't interfere with his employees."

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