Methadone clinic pur­sues ways to re­solve park­ing is­sues

Code en­force­ment de­ci­sion pend­ing

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By VIR­GINIA TERHUNE vter­hune@ches­

The op­er­a­tors of the BD Health Ser

vices methadone clinic on North Point Road in­di­cated Mon­day they are look­ing into open­ing an­other clinic in Bal­ti­more City they say could help al­le­vi­ate the traf­fic con­ges­tion at the Dun­dalk clinic that has sparked com­plaints from neigh­bors.

One of the own­ers, Jason Gel­ber, tes­ti­fied dur­ing a code en­force­ment hear­ing on Mon­day in Tow­son that an in­for­mal sur­vey of the Dun­dalk clinic’s clients in­di­cated about half might be able to

trans­fer to the city lo­ca­tion if it comes to pass.

“They’ve been look­ing for prop­er­ties prop­erly zoned for park­ing,” said Richard Matz, a prin­ci­pal and en­gi­neer with Col­bert, Matz and Rosen­felt, who has worked on the ad­di­tion plans.

Matz and Gel­ber tes­ti­fied dur­ing the se­cond day of the hear­ing be­fore the county’s Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tive Law Judge, Lawrence Stahl.

Stahl will re­view the case and is­sue a writ­ten de­ci­sion that can be ap­pealed by ei­ther party to the county Board of Ap­peals.

The county Depart­ment of Per­mits, Ap­provals and In­spec­tions re­cently cited the clinic own­ers for op­er­at­ing two on-site of­fice trail­ers with ex­pired per­mits and for fail­ure to main­tain a “durable and dust­less” sur­face for park­ing.

Mem­bers of the Wells McCo­mas Im­prove­ment As­so­ci­a­tion tes­ti­fied on the first day of the hear­ing on Feb. 1 that the num­ber of clients pick­ing up med­i­ca­tion in the morn­ing at the clinic, which opened in 2006, had in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly.

They claimed that cars were il­le­gally parked on the street, at times block­ing school buses and trucks try

ing to turn off of Old North Point Road on to Bat­tle Grove Road to reach North Point Boule­vard.

Al­der­man and the own­ers said Mon­day that the own­ers had tried to secure more park­ing spa­ces in sev­eral ways but ran into ob­sta­cles em­a­nat­ing from the county and the County Coun­cil.

“The county has frus­trated every­thing the prop­erty own­ers have tried to do,” said their at­tor­ney, Howard Al­der­man Jr. with the firm Levin & Gann.

Gel­ber also said the clinic had hired a se­cond se­cu­rity guard to man­age traf­fic, and hired an­other nurse and ex­tended clinic hours to re­lieve the early morn­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion.

He also said clients are con­cerned the clinic may close, leav­ing them with­out treat­ment op­tions.

In 2014, the own­ers be­gan plan­ning a two-story ad­di­tion to the clinic, which opened in 2006 in a con­verted house, and in the process were granted a tem­po­rary per­mit for a se­cond of­fice trailer on the site for use dur­ing con­struc­tion, ac- cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

The own­ers reached an agree­ment with the Dream­ers gen­tle­men’s club across North Point Road for ad­di­tional park­ing spa­ces, but just as the clinic own­ers were get­ting ready to ap­ply for the build­ing per­mit for the ad­di­tion in late 2015, ques­tions were raised about the le­gal­ity of the park­ing agree­ment.

As the a re­sult, the build­ing per­mit was not is­sued, Matz said.

“They never ad­ju­di­cated it – it just held us up,” he said.

The clinic own­ers also con­tracted to buy a one-acre prop­erty at 4010 North Point Road to pro­vide ad­di­tional park­ing but the pur­chase did not go through be­cause County Coun­cil­man Todd Cran­dell (7th District), down-zoned the lot as part of the Com­pre­hen­sive Zon- ing Map Process (CZMP), which the Coun­cil uses to re-zone prop­erty around the county ev­ery four years.

The down-zon­ing from an in­dus­trial to a res­i­den­tial use, which fol­lowed a fi­nal Coun­cil vote in Au­gust, means it can’t be used for park­ing, Matz said.

The methadone clinic was also down-zoned dur­ing the CZMP with the re­sult that the clinic and the two trail­ers it now uses for op­er­a­tions are con­sid­ered non­con­form­ing uses that can con­tinue by right, ar­gued Matz and Al­der­man.

The county, how­ever, ar­gues that the trailer per­mits were is­sued for tem­po­rary use dur­ing a con­struc­tion pe­riod that ended with down-zon­ing and that per­mits ex­pired at the end of De­cem­ber, which means they should be re­moved.

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