The Morristown Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a use-on-review for ReVIDA Recovery Centers to remain at its current location on Bowman Avenue, off West Morris Boulevard.
The BZA action was necessary because the property where ReVIDA is located is zoned for heavy industrial, and medical offices that located on property with industrial zoning designations must get BZA approval. BZA decisions are final and do not require Morristown City Council approval.
“The changes in the ordinances put some more expectations on ReVIDA and expectations on the city, and the public will see if we are both able to live up to these,” Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said this morning.
ReVIDA frequently prescribes Suboxone strips or Subutex pills – both drugs contain the active ingredient buprenorphine – for treatment of opiod addiction. ReVIDA health-care professionals prescribe, but do not dispense buprenorphine.
After refusing ReVIDA’s use-on-review in August 2019 based on distance requirements between substance-abuse clinics and churches, city officials learned that recovering drug addicts are a protected class under the Americans with Disability Act.
City planning staff redrafted the zoning ordinance to allow substance-abuse clinics in all locations, but planners put some regulatory strings on the new ordinance.
ReVIDA and other similar clinics must open their doors 30 minutes before seeing patients to eliminate loitering and disruptions to surrounding businesses. They must also post signs indicating the clinic does not store drugs to deter those inclined to obtain Suboxone and Subutex by force.
Another hitch in the relationship between city government and ReVIDA involved the substance-abuse clinic opening before obtaining a business license.
During a work session preceding the meeting, BZA members continued to express skepticism about the clinic, saying they had received complaints from area businesses about ReVIDA clients. Steve Neilson, lead city planner, told BZA members that undocumented complaints have no value when it comes to addressing concerns about substance-abuse clinics.