Residents rally against proposed methadone clinic

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - Hundreds of Latonia residents came out on Thursday to learn more about a methadone clinic that could open in their neighborhood.

The for profit clinic would go in the Latonia Shopping Plaza off Winston Avenue.

Dr. Gary Shearer and Dr. Ronald Washington want to open the clinic. Many residents say they see the need for it, but add their neighborhood can't afford to house it.

Nina Freeman lives across the street from the shopping center.

"I got a daughter that's 14 years old and wants to go over in the shopping center by herself," said Freeman. "But with the clinic coming in. I don't trust it."

Many of her neighbors feel the same. Zella Golley says she's lived in Latonia nearly all of her live. She said if the clinic is opened across the street from her, she'll consider moving out of her house.

"it's going to change my life dramatically," said Golley. "I have grandkids that visit the city every summer and my daughter has informed me, they will not be here if it goes in."

The shopping center is in the middle of a residential area. It's not far from a number of schools, daycares, and small businesses. Residents like Golley and Freeman say that's the problem.

They're certainly not alone.

Five-hundred residents packed the American Legion Post 203 to hear more about the clinic.They voiced their concerns. Most said they had nothing against the people who want to get help, but that the clinic should not be put in a community full of elderly members and children.

There was support for the issue, though. One resident said the clinic could actually be good for local businesses, adding the addicts often have cravings for sugar and pizza and would frequent local restaurants.

Others in Latonia also agree the clinic is the best prescription for a growing drug problem.

"I think it would be amazing," said Benjamin Perry, III. "It would save a lot of lives here in this area. I mean there's handfuls of young kids, young men and women that overdose from heroin; that's coming from Cincinnati and if there was a methadone clinic here in Northern Kentucky, all these users would have some place to go to turn their addiction around."

Leaders of the Latonia Business Association asked residents to attend the Board of Adjustments meeting next month. That's the next step in the process. The Board of Adjustment must receive an official application for the property from the doctors by March 23rd. If the board receives it by that date, members will take up the issue at their meeting in April.

Owners of the shopping center, Schottenstein Property Group, still need to approve the doctors' application for the methadone center. The group is based in Columbus. Leaders from the Latonia Business Association told FOX19 they've spoken with them.

"As we understand it now, the landlord is not going to sign the lease," said Richard Kennedy of the Latonia Business Association. "It was proposed as a doctor's office. That's why they even spoke with them in the first place."

The Board of Adjustment meeting will be held on April 20th at the City Commission Chambers off Madison at 5:30pm.

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