City sets zoning regulations for narcotic detoxification centers


Marlborough – Rumors of a narcotics detoxification facility coming to the city sparked Councilors to implement a zoning ordinance for such facilities.

Noting that there were no existing ordinances regarding such a facility, Council President Arthur Vigeant previously asked the Planning Committee to review current zoning ordinances and recommend possible amend- ments that would address having detoxification facilities in the city.

At the time he asked the Planning Board to review the zoning ordinances, Vigeant also proposed an amendment to the existing ordinances.

Despite receiving a negative recommendation back from the Planning Board regarding Vigeant’s proposed amendment, the City Council moved the item forward at its Nov. 23 meeting, voting unanimously in favor of amending the existing zoning ordinance, adding specific guidelines of where a narcotics detoxification facility or maintenance center can be placed with n the city.

“We needed to look at protecting the neighborhood,” Vigeant said.

The narcotics detoxification facility would offer non-residential drug treatment program where individuals addicted to drugs would go to receive subscribed substitute drugs. Concerned about the proximity to children and seniors within the city the ordinance now stipulates that the facilities can not be placed within 1,000 feet of a school, recreational facility, park, elderly housing or retirement community.

The ordinance also requires for profit detoxification centers to acquire a special permit to operate within the city.

In order to receive the special permit the applicant will need to prove that there is a demonstrated need for the facility. The permit requirement includes several stipulations such as indoor waiting areas, and adequate security measures to ensure that the participants will not propose a direct threat to the health and safety of other individuals.

In its letter to the council the Planning Board cited several recommendations to amend the existing ordinance, including the placement of the facility within the hospital.

Weighing in on this option Ward 5 Councilor Robert Seymour explained that he contacted Marlborough Hospital to see if this was a possibility.

“It was very common to have these within hospitals, as of today very few do it,” Seymour said. “I think it is an issue of the co-mingling of patients.”

The Planning Board also recommended that they permit these centers in areas of the city that are already permitted for medical office buildings, reducing the buffer zones, eliminating the traffi c stud y becaus e they become expensive for applicants, and to change language within the ordinance to make it more neutral.

With only Councilor Seymour acknowledging the recommendations of the Planning Board, he warned the councilors that even if the city puts this ordinance in place state and federal authorities could trump it,

“I don’t want you to have a false sense of security that the city is buffered from this,” Seymour said.

Before making the motion to approve the amended ordinance, Ward 1 Councilor Joseph Delano weighed in on the conversation. In his opinion he explained that it is the responsibility of the council to use some foresight to control what can possibly arise and to put in reasonable safeguards.

Echoing Delano’s opinion, Vigeant who was happy to see the ordinance in place felt it was important for the city to have the zoning restrictions regardless of federal regulations that could supersede the city’s ordinances.