1,500 sign petition against Gray methadone clinic ahead of public meeting

If everything is approved, the application lists the opening date as February 2017, with work on the building beginning in November.

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Hundreds of people are expected to attend a neighborhood meeting about a proposed non-profit methadone clinic in Gray.

On Thursday, East Tennessee State University and Mountain States Health Alliance will host a city-mandated public meeting ahead of the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission considering its rezoning request for the proposed site in Gray Commons Professional Park. It will be held from 5-7 p.m. at Appalachian Fairgrounds in the Farm and Home building.

The city’s planning department said right now the property is not zoned to allow a methadone clinic. The property is zoned as planned arterial district, but needs to be zoned as a medical services district.Mountain States submitted a rezoning request to the Johnson City Planning Department.

“This is absolutely an opportunity for our community to speak,” said Danny Sells, a Gray resident and one of the organizers of neighborhood group, “Citizens to Maintain Gray”. Sells said around 1,500 people have signed a petition against the clinic and the community has a lot of questions about the project. “A lot folks are still trying to figure out what the facility is actually going to do,” Sells said.

Mountain States CEO Alan Levine, ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland and the clinic’s director Dr. Robert Pack will attend the meeting, which will focus on the rezoning request. A Mountain States spokesperson said opening remarks will be made and then the floor will be open to public comment. While speakers will not have a time limit the meeting will end at 7 p.m. “We are hopeful the attendees will be respectful of each other’s time and allow everyone the opportunity to speak,” said Mountain States Corporate Communications Manager Meaghan Smith.

Sells said the community has one major point to make, “Do it where it is that you have this stuff planned not 10-12 miles outside of the city in a rural setting.”

A second opposition letter sent to the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency echoed the same sentiment. A concerned citizen cited a lack of public transportation in the area, fear of impaired driving and a lack of police presence as reasons why the state should oppose the certificate of need application filed by ETSU and Mountain States.

The HSDA is set to consider the application next month. The rezoning request is expected to go before the planning commission on Tuesday and eventually the city commission.

Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.

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