New Bedford City Council Fails to Block West End Addiction Center
A national medical group that plans to open an opioid addiction treatment center in a west end neighborhood gained some traction this week, and opponents of the project lost some ground.
On Tuesday night, the New Bedford City Council failed to override Mayor Jon Mitchell's Nov. 6 veto of the council's previous attempt to stop the project. The council had previously tried to enact a broad ban on any new drug addiction treatment centers in residential neighborhoods. The council's 5-5 vote on Tuesday, with one member absent, did not reach the two-thirds needed to override the mayoral veto.
That means CleanSlate Outpatient Addiction Medicine, which plans to relocate its Grape Street facility to new renovated quarters at 52-54 Brigham Street, will now have the opportunity to take its case to the Planning Board and the Zoning Board in December, where it will seek a special permit.
In his Nov. 6 letter to the council, the mayor said his veto of their prohibition attempt had a legal basis, and that the City Council does not have authority to enact zoning ordinances on its own. Zoning ordinances, which limit certain land uses, require public hearings with the Planning Board, and not just a simple council vote. Mitchell said he had consulted with legal counsel before issuing his veto.
Five councilors agreed with the legal analysis and supported Mitchell's veto, even though all members of the council are on record as opposing the CleanSlate center relocating to Brigham Street from its current Grape Street location.
On Tuesday, Councilors Linda Morad, Brain Gomes, Joe Lopes, Scott Lima, and Naomi Carney voted to override the mayoral veto. Councilors Ian Abreu, Debora Coelho, Brad Markey, Maria Giesta and Hugh Dunn voted to sustain it, according to the Standard Times. Ward 4 councilor Dana Rebeiro was not present at Tuesday's meeting.
Also Tuesday, a unanimous 10-0 resolution was passed in opposition to Clean Slate's relocation. The wording said councilors want to assist the opioid addiction treatment center in finding a more suitable location. Mitchell himself, in issuing his veto, had said he also opposes the location.
Councilor Lima, who represents the Ward 5 area that would be affected, told WBSM that his constituents wish to protect the residential quality of the neighborhood. He said neighbors had also expressed concern about parking and a possible increase in crime with the advent of a drug addiction center.
"My job is to advocate for my constituents," Lima said.
CleanSlate, recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, operates opioid and alcohol addiction centers in 11 states and offers medication-assisted treatment, including the use of Suboxone. The treatment is led by physicians and licensed medical providers.