Variance Board votes on Suboxone clinic

Published 11:19 am Friday, June 10, 2022

The Variance Board voted 3:2 Wednesday to deny a request by the Groups Recover Together organizations to open a clinic in Middlesboro. The location discussed was 321 North 12th St.

The group’s request was to allow a drug-treatment facility to be located at a distance less than 1,000 feet of any state-licensed operator or regulated school or daycare center for minors, public park or playground. The city ordnance prohibits this type of facility with in a 1,000 feet radius of certain entities. Tim Kelly with the city’s codes enforcement department said he could not issue a business licenses unless the applicant obtained a variance from the distance requirements due to the location being within 1,000 feet of a state-licensed operator.

Director of Real Estate and Development Dennis McCoy said that the organization started in 2014 with a goal of establishing a  respectful, accessible and affordable drug-treatment option.

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Members of the organization meet weekly for an hour with physicians, counselors and those in recovery. After the meeting, members will are sent a prescription for Suboxone directly to their pharmacy. Executive Director of Business Development Jeremy Carpenter said the centers more resemble a counseling center because they do not dispense any medications on site. Members have to attend meetings to receive their prescription. The organization is currently operating virtually.

Carpenter said 114 Bell Countians are participating in the virtual program. There is a low-dose protocol, pill checks and drug tests while in the program.

The board said members of the community have expressed concerns about foot traffic, bringing in more drugs and noted that Middlesboro already has two clinics with a third on the way.