Weekly Feature

2017-09-13 / Front Page

Town discards possible clinic location amendments

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

The Town Board last week agreed to scrap a possible local law that would have limited the locations of chemical dependency treatment clinics.

After about eight people spoke during a public hearing on the matter, the board’s decision was to close the hearing and allow the Town Attorney’s Office to further review the proposed clinic limitations.

Within the proposed amendment, the town would have placed restrictions such as not allowing the facilities to be located within 1,000 feet of a school, religious institution, public park or playground. Additionally, the proposed law would have not allowed two facilities to be placed within 1,000 feet of each other.

The Town Board in April directed the town attorney, with input from the commissioner of buildings and the director of planning, to prepare the necessary revisions to the zoning code to address issues raised by the location of chemical dependency clinics.

The proposed amendment stems from a plan by Catholic Health Systems to close its existing clinic at 3730 Sheridan Drive in favor of a new location.

While the company initially proposed opening the new clinic at 910 Millersport Highway, Catholic Health officials last week said they now plan to locate the facility at 210 John Glenn Drive.

According to Catholic Health officials, the location will allow the health system to move and expand the services it currently offers at its Sheridan Drive location, which is near Millersport Highway.

The Millersport Highway proposal was met with resistance by nearby residents and people living on North Ivyhurst Road, who cited safety concerns and possible negative effects on property values.

The John Glenn facility will be within a business and industrial area in the northwest section of town.

Former Town Justice Mark Farrell said he felt restricting the locations through town law was discriminatory and the town needs to be a part of the solution to help people who are addicted to drugs, such as opioids.

Farrell initiated the Amherst Drug Court and Therapeutic Foundation in 1996.

“This resolution would never [pass muster] for constitutional standards,” he said. “We need to take a look at the pieces of this legislation and not be discriminatory.”

Following objections from six people during the public hearing, members of the Town Board said the proposed amendments were born out of their attempts to restrict only the clinics’ locations, not to deny people treatment for their addictions.

“No one [has] said there isn’t a problem,” Deputy Supervisor Steven Sanders said. “I think we need to do something, but we have to be very careful with what restrictions we would put in place.”

Following the board’s decision to not act on the proposed amendments, Supervisor Barry Weinstein said the legislation could be altered and then “come back next year before the new Town Board.”

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