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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

School District Tells Court Methadone Clinic Is A Safety Issue

The Vermont Supreme Court held its annual session at Vermont Law School Monday, where it typically hears arguments in high profile cases. 

Among those under consideration was the South Burlington School District appeal of a permit allowing the Howard Center to construct a new methadone clinic near two schools.

School district attorney Peitro Lynn told the justices that his appeal is based largely on the argument that a traffic study should have been required before a permit was issued.

But Lynn says the real concern is the safety of the students. He told the court that a certain percentage of those using the clinic may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"There are concerns as a result that if there are impaired drivers more than would ordinarily be present by virtue of the presence of a methadone clinic it could have a negative impact on safety,” Lynn told the justices.

The building housing the clinic is currently a medical office. The school district argues that dispensing methadone at the site constitutes a change in use and requires the traffic study.

Arguing for the Howard Center, attorney Frank Kochman said the clinic doesn’t represent a change in use, because the site is already zoned for medical care. 

“In South Burlington a medical office is a place run by a doctor that offers service in furtherance of the treatment he or she provides. That is what we have here.  That is the common sense, plain meaning interpretation,”  Kochman told the court.

Kochman says putting a clinic at the site is a case of medical care providers responding to community needs and providing more comprehensive care.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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