Hearing planned to discuss plans for second methadone clinic

EVERETT — The city’s Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing Tuesday on plans to possibly allow a second methadone clinic to operate in Everett.

The Downtown Everett Association, which represents local businesses and property owners, has asked that the commission wait 90 days before making a decision, however.

The association is an important group of stakeholders, Everett Planning Director Allan Giffen said, and some changes the commission proposed to the ordinance had not been given as thorough a review as other parts.

“We thought it was right to take a little more time and study that,” Giffen said.

When the Planning Commission first took up the issue in May, the future clinic operator, Therapeutic Health Services, noted that it had a hard time finding acceptable locations because of the unique needs of a clinic and local zoning requirements.

The Seattle nonprofit’s clinic on 100th Street SW serves 850 people a day and has waiting list of up to 200 people at any given time, the group’s representative Jon Berkedal told the commission.

The city also has been engaged in combating rampant opiate addiction. In January, it filed suit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, to recoup some of the damage the epidemic has done to the city.

Therapeutic Health Services had identified an ideal location in the former Trask Surgery Center on the corner of Rucker and Pacific avenues.

That location, however, is in the city’s downtown business district, and the proposed code amendment only would have allowed the second clinic to open along north Broadway. After listening to Berkedal’s concerns, the commission instructed the city to include downtown as a possibility.

The Downtown Everett Association wrote to the commission and city asking it to hold off on a decision and convene more stakeholders to study the issue. It cited people’s anger and resistance to the city’s homeless housing project as an outcome of the city not having done so before.

“We think a premature decision by the Planning Commission on the proposed code amendment risks a similar outcome, fueling emotions and resistance in the absence of much-needed stakeholder outreach, education and facts,” the association wrote.

It proposed forming a group of downtown interests to study the impacts of methadone clinics on nearby businesses and residents, the locations of clinics in Snohomish County relative to the demand for them, and the future role of downtown in providing community services.

Giffen’s advice to the commission is to grant the request for more review, but indicated that the association’s three proposals would likely take longer than 90 days. In particular, the role of downtown would more properly be considered as part of the city’s Metro Everett planning process for the entire downtown.

The Planning Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers, 3002 Wetmore Ave.

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