Judge voids Balto. Co. law limiting methadone clinics

Measure found to violate ADA, her previous ruling

September 13, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

A federal judge has struck down a Baltimore County law designed to keep methadone clinics away from residential neighborhoods.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled that the new law violates her previous order that Baltimore County not treat methadone clinics differently from other medical offices.

County Attorney Edward J. Gilliss was unavailable for comment yesterday afternoon, but Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, the Pikesville Democrat who crafted the law, said he thinks the county will appeal.

The county had previously tried to restrict the locations of methadone clinics, but Blake ruled in 2000 that treating them differently from other medical offices violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This time, Kamenetz broadened the proposed regulations to include other free-standing medical facilities.

He argued that methadone clinics should be treated differently from other medical offices because they can operate at unusual hours and see large numbers of patients in a short period of time, which can cause traffic and parking problems if the centers are in residential areas.

His move was a response to two proposals for methadone clinics within a half-mile of each other in Pikesville.

Blake said the changes to the old law were insignificant.

"The county cannot comply with the order simply by adding alcohol and drug treatment centers, and a few other facilities which were not in any event within the definition of medical office, to the category of entities that will be subjected to the ... requirements," she wrote.

Kamenetz said he wasn't surprised by the ruling. "I think that it's appropriate for further review by a different judge," he said. "I accept the premise of Judge Blake's original ruling, but I think we addressed that."

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