County shuts down unlicensed suboxone clinic
Published 4:38 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2015
County officials on Wednesday morning shut down an unlicensed drug treatment center attempting to locate in Lynn Valley.
Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler issued a stop work order for “12 Ways Walk-in Clinic LLC” at around 9 a.m. Wednesday. The clinic was planning to locate in the old PSG building at the Broad Street Extension near the Hunter Bridge. The facility was believed to have been a suboxone clinic that would have operated also as a family practice.
Citizens living in the communities around the unlicensed clinic learned of its plans to open late Tuesday and took to social media sites to share their concern and frustration over the situations. From there, they reached out to their commissioners and called the planning office, Schuettler said.
“It was a very proactive neighborhood that got in contact with me, and got in contact with their commissioners,” Schuettler said.
The owners of the clinic had not applied for Carter County business license and had not been before the planning commission. Even if those steps had been followed, the property is not zoned to allow for suboxone clinics, Schuettler said.
The PSG property is in an M-1 zone, not an M-2 zone as would be required for such a facility. The clinic would also have to be located at least 2,000 feet from the closest schools, parks and churches.
Schuettler said he first learned of the proposed clinic Tuesday afternoon when an “associate” told him of rumors that a suboxone clinic planned to locate in Carter County. Later the same evening, he started to hear from citizens that a sign had been put up on the PSG building announcing the clinic would be opening.
“First thing this morning (Wednesday), I drove by and the sign was there,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t zoned properly for that.”
The planning office contacted the real estate agent who represents the property, which is currently for sale. The agent asked the building’s owner to contact officials, who were told he property had been rented to someone who said they wanted to open an urgent care medical facility.
After the stop work order was posted at 9 a.m., Schuettler, Sheriff Dexter Lunceford and a planning commissioner returned to the property at around 10:30 a.m., at which time someone came to take down the sign for the business. The business owner also has suspended the tenants’ lease, Schuettler said.
While watching the property Wednesday, Schuettler said multiple cars drove up to the clinic before finding it closed and leaving. He said he had also heard complaints from neighbors that many cars with out-of-county license plates were driving up to the building before circling around the parking lot and going on their way.
12 Ways Walk-in Clinic LLC had started a Facebook page for the Lynn Valley clinic that has since been taken down. Before the page was disabled, it had gained 40 likes. In the “about” section, the page read, “We are a thriving addiction care center specializing in the treatment of opiate addiction with suboxone drug therapy and also work as a family practice.”
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey assured citizens that a drug-treatment clinic would not be opening in that location.
“People of the area can rest assured that no clinic will be opening there,” Humphrey said. “It is my opinion that a clinic was never there because it was not licensed, and it was not legal. Zoning regulations prohibit that type of establishment. It should have never been there. They made no application for a business license, and even if they had, it would have been denied because of the zoning regulations.”
The issue is still under investigation, Lunceford said, but whether charges are placed will depend on if any patients were ever treated at the clinic.
“Criminal charges will depend on if anyone was treated there,” he said. “Right now, we don’t know if anyone was or not.”
He asked that anyone who has knowledge of patients being treated at the clinic before it closed to call his department at 542-1845.
Schuettler said he would be monitoring the case and the property to make sure a similar clinic did not try to come in. Failure to comply with the stop work order would result in $50 per day fines and citing the business into General Sessions or Chancery Court.