Council Upholds Ordinance Banning Methadone Clinic
But decision won't stop center from suing township over license
Bloomfield residents seemed to get the answer they were looking for at Monday night's council meeting about the fate of a proposed methadone clinic at Watsessing Avenue.
Mayor Raymond McCarthy and council members agreed to uphold a prior ordinance prohibiting methadone counseling centers in any part of Bloomfield, squashing weeks of rumors that a clinic was set to reopen at the address.
"It failed to move," McCarthy said over applause in the mayor's conference room.
The council opted to begin Monday night's meeting with a roughly 20-minute closed session in the room to discuss the drug center, while more than 50 Bloomfield residents awaited the decision in a steamy hallway in the law enforcement building.
"I'd just like to first thank the mayor and city council for making such a wonderful decision to support the ordinance to prevent this methadone clinic in Bloomfield," said resident Dan Natal.
American Counseling Center, Inc. (ACC) has threatened litigation to regain the right to treat addicts at the clinic, after its Certificate of Occupancy was revoked by the township in 2007.
Brian Aloia, the township's attorney, said the council's decision Monday night was made under verbal and written legal advice. He said, however, it doesn't prevent ACC from filing a lawsuit.
Prior to the closed session, the mayor riled residents by refusing to move the meeting to the larger council chambers in the adjoining town hall, despite reaching the 42-person maximum occupancy in the conference room.
"I thank you, but we had to do (closed session) here so we could have a great discussion about it," McCarthy said. "That's why I like to stay in this room."
Some residents were forced to listen to the first half-hour of the meeting from the hallway, which was measured by the fire department for maximum occupancy earlier that day in anticipation of a large crowd. The hallway, located on the second floor of the law enforcement building, can hold up to 200 people, according to Fire Chief Joseph McCarthy.
The meeting was eventually moved to council chambers under the suggestion of Councilman Bernard Hamilton.
Correction: The original headline of this story incorrectly referred to the clinic as a "meth" center. It has been changed to "methadone."