Local business owners react to proposed New Path methadone clinic

The center wanted to open a methadone clinic on the 500 block of Princeton Road in Princeton Plaza.

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Tri-cities business owners are not happy about a company’s second attempt to bring a methadone clinic to Johnson City. New Path Treatment Center, LLC submitted its certificate of need application to the Tennessee Health Services & Development Agency (HSDA) last Friday.

New Path plans to locate the facility in two buildings located at 503 and 507 Princeton Road. The project is slated to cost around $1.8 million and serve more than 600 patients by the end of its first operational year.

But several business owners in the area are concerned about the proposal. “I would prefer for Disneyland or something to come,” said Dr. Larry Denny, a dentist who practices down the street from the proposed site. “We’re concerned about these people taking their medication that has been given to them and selling it in the parking lot.”

Dr. Dan Auter, an orthodontist who works across the street from the proposed site said, “It’s an epidemic, there’s no doubt about that and I’m sympathetic to that and I think there is a place for methadone treatment.” But Dr. Auter said he does not think Princeton Road is the right location for the clinic because of the businesses, day care, and medical providers in the area. He is worried about potential dangerous side-effects of the treatment and is concerned it might impair patients’ driving abilities. “Within 20 minutes these patients are driving. They’re out on the streets, in our neighborhood.”

If New Path gets approval from the HSDA and a special exemption from Johnson City’s Board of Zoning Appeals it plans on starting renovations in the fall with a slated February 2017 opening date. This is the company’s second attempt in the last year to open a methadone clinic in Johnson City. New Path officials said they withdrew the first application in December because of a location issue.

Dr. Denny said if a methadone clinic is approved, “We [business owners] want to make sure if it comes it’s completely controlled from one end to the other.”

In a letter given to at least one business in the area, New Path stated, “Our hope is to begin a collaborative relationship in the local community where we can address our individual fears, concerns, hopes and intentions.”

Once the New Path application is deemed complete by the HSDA the agency will set a date to review it.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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