Opposition has mounted to a behavioral health clinic offering methadone and other treatments for substance use disorder planned for 2 Old Point Ave. in Madison, above, seen April 22. In response, town officials are drafting a 180-day moratorium prohibiting the clinic from opening, which would go before residents at the June 10 town meeting. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

MADISON — Residents could soon have a chance to restrict the location of a proposed drug treatment clinic after a group submitted a petition to town officials objecting to the clinic’s planned location in the center of town.

After briefly discussing the matter on Monday, the Board of Selectmen at its next meeting May 28 is expected to consider approving language for a 180-day moratorium that would prohibit the opening of the clinic, Chairman Albert Veneziano said Monday. That would send it to voters at Madison’s June 10 town meeting for final approval.

The temporary measure would allow town officials to develop a permanent ordinance restricting the location of facilities that dispense controlled substances, according to Town Manager Denise Ducharme. Any ordinance would ultimately have to be approved by residents.

The discussion comes after a group of residents organized a petition expressing their opposition to the proposed site of a behavioral health clinic operated by Acadia Healthcare at the former Taylor’s Drug Store at 2 Old Point Ave. Acadia is under contract to buy the building but has not yet submitted any plans to the town, officials said.

The Tennessee-based health care provider says it would offer a variety of treatments and services at what it calls a comprehensive treatment center. Those would include the administration of methadone and Suboxone (a combination medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone), both controlled substances that are used widely to treat opioid addiction in adults.

The petition, which garnered 202 verified signatures, asked the town and Acadia to reconsider the central location in Madison.

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“This location is alarmingly close to public spaces frequented by our children — including schools, libraries, and playgrounds,” the petition says. “Our youth and half the town’s middle school-aged children walk past this proposed site every day on their way to school or the playground. It is distressing to think that they could be exposed to such an environment daily.”

John Martins, a Madison resident who helped organize the petition, said that he and others spoke to several hundred local voters while gathering signatures.

“There were only seven people that gave resistance,” Martins told selectmen at Monday’s meeting. “The town is against it completely.”

Some residents and officials said that, while they see the need for the treatment center, they were concerned about the impacts of having it in the center of town and near schools. The Old Point Avenue site is at the intersection of state routes 8, 43, 148 and U.S. Route 201A in Madison’s main business district.

Moratorium language has yet to be finalized. Any proposed ordinance would be crafted and discussed carefully, presented at public hearings, and approved at town meeting, Ducharme said.

A draft of the yet-to-be-finalized ordinance, based on some in other towns, would restrict facilities that dispense methadone or other controlled substances to state routes 43 and 148 and U.S. Route 201. Among other requirements, a facility would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of any school or safe zone.

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Town officials said previously that, based on legal advice, they could not do anything to stop the opening of the clinic at the planned site because Acadia is acquiring the property via private transaction and has yet to submit any applications to the Planning Board.

The Madison Board of Selectmen last month held a public forum regarding a proposed behavioral health clinic offering methadone treatment, among other services, with about 25 residents attending. Jake Freudberg/Morning Sentinel file

Since then, town officials learned that a moratorium and ordinance could be legally effective, so long as the town does not interfere with Acadia’s real estate transaction, according to Ducharme.

“It’s all subject to challenge,” Ducharme said in an interview Tuesday.

Acadia representatives have told town officials that they are willing to work to find another location, Ducharme said.

“We have been talking with the Acadia Health representatives and we’re looking at alternative locations,” Ducharme said at Monday’s selectmen meeting. “They are willing to find a different location, so that’s progress.”

Ducharme said she could not share details about other possible locations. Sites being considered are properties not on the market, according to Ducharme.

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“There’s something in the works,” she said.

Acadia chose Madison for the site of a new treatment center because about 250 of its Waterville clinic patients live in Somerset County and 150 live in Madison, according to Adrienne Sass, Acadia’s regional director for its clinics in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. State officials also asked for a service like Acadia’s in Somerset County, Sass said at a Madison Board of Selectmen meeting in April.

Acadia has six similar clinics in Maine, Sass said, including one at 40 Airport Road in Waterville. Nationwide, the company operates 253 behavioral health clinics, according to its website.

In addition to medication-assisted treatment, the center would offer therapy, counseling and other services, including advising on jobs and housing, Sass said.

Suboxone and methadone are administered to patients — every day, in most cases — by medical professionals under the supervision of a physician on-site, Sass said.

To offer the medications, Acadia is overseen by regulations from state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Sass said.

The clinic would work to not be a burden on the community and would enforce a “good neighbor policy” for its patients.

“We have very low tolerance for shenanigans in the clinic, in the parking lot,” Sass said.

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