OH: Painesville Township Trustees To Choose Between Marijuana And Opioid Rehab Center

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Township trustees will take up an emotionally charged issue Tuesday evening when they let members of the public speak for or against two potential uses of a property on Blackbrook Road.

One use is a for-profit medical-marijuana dispensary that has been approved by the state and the local board of zoning appeals.

The other is a non-profit opioid-addiction treatment center. The zoning board rejected an earlier applicant wanting to open such a facility. The current applicant – Willoughby-based North East Ohio Health Services doing business as Connections – is affiliated with the earlier applicant.

If a vote is taken Tuesday night, the only issue before the three trustees is whether the addiction-treatment facility is eligible to operate. Then the decision on land use will be up to Tom Christopher, whose commercial real estate group owns the property.

But there has been much public criticism of the addiction-center concept, especially at a zoning-board meeting in February.

Gabe Cicconetti, chair of the trustees, said that while some residents oppose both uses and some favor the dispensary, few favor the treatment center.

“I see both as beneficial to the community,” Cicconetti said by telephone Friday.

Christopher said much misinformation has been circulated about the addiction center, with some calling it a place for court-mandated treatment.

He and Cicconetti said that when the new group applied to open a treatment facility, the township insisted that it have a fence and high security.

Because the zoning board once approved the idea, it will have no say about the actions of the trustees.

Christopher said he will make less money if the addiction center goes forward because it is a nonprofit. But he favors it because the opioid crisis has reached into his own family, claiming the life of a close relative.

“But I have nothing against the marijuana dispensary because medical marijuana has helped friends of ours,” he said.

Neighbor Carol Hurst, a retired Cleveland Clinic nurse, said public opposition to the addiction center is all about public safety, because the people being treated are drug addicts who can come and go as they please, and some residents question how quickly sheriff’s deputies could respond to a late-night incident.

She said she does not like the choices, but favors the dispensary “because it’s run like a business.”