Gray community will continue to fight against proposed methadone clinic

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

GRAY, TN (WJHL)- Community members opposed to a drug treatment facility in Gray will continue to fight against it even though the state of Tennessee gave approval for the project.

The Health Services and Development Agency granted a certificate of need for the East Tennessee State University and Mountain States Health Alliance non-profit methadone clinic on Wednesday. It is an essential document the two entities need in order to move forward with the clinic.

“[We were] very disappointed and surprised, especially at an 8-0 count,” said Washington County Commissioner Bryan Davenport, who is against the clinic’s proposed location in Gray Commons Professional Park in Gray. Davenport, along with other community members, spoke out against the CON application at the HSDA meeting in Nashville. “You stand no chance if you don’t go plead your case and try to bring questions to what’s going on in your community and I just really applaud everyone for getting involved.”

Commissioner Davenport said the community is not giving up. The Johnson City City Commission must still consider the rezoning request for the proposed site. Danny Sells said local group “Citizens to Maintain Gray” is already reaching out to city commissioners on why they should not vote to approve the rezoning. Sells said, “We have been meeting with all of the city commissioners and expressing our concerns and requesting that they too read this very weak application.”

On Wednesday, Mountain States Health Alliance Vice-President Lindy White said this clinic is needed in the Tri-Cities region. “It is unique model… not only to bring the service to our region but to also continue to do research around best practices so that we can uniquely begin to fight this epidemic in our region,” White said. White also said she was encouraged after the HSDA meeting. “The heart-warming thing for me is that everyone in that room today including the opponents spoke to the need for this type of service.”

But Commissioner Davenport does not think Mountain State’s relationship with the community will improve anytime soon. “It’s fractured, it’s broken. It would be very difficult to mend that relationship at this time.”

Anyone who wrote a letter to the HSDA before the Aug. 24 hearing or spoke during the hearing on the CON application can file a petition for an appeal. It must be filed with the HSDA within 15 days of the Aug. 24th vote. Davenport and other opposition members said they are still weighing their options on whether or not to file a petition for an appeal.

The Johnson City City Commission is set to consider the rezoning request for the first time on Sept. 1. If it is approved at that meeting the community will be able to give public comment at a second hearing.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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