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Methadone ruling appealed to state Supreme Court

| Thursday, March 8, 2007

The owner of a Perry Township building is taking his proposal for a methadone clinic to the state Supreme Court.

Township and Frazier School District officials opposed Lawrence Bujdos' proposal to sell a former tractor repair shop to Louis E. Waller and Steve Shaner so they could operate a methadone treatment facility along Route 51 near Rehoboth Church Road.

In February, Fayette Court of Common Pleas Judge Steve Leskinen vacated a special exception granted by the Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board. The property is zoned for general business purposes.

In Leskinen's opinion, he wrote the ZHB mistakenly considered the methadone clinic a medical clinic under the county's 1968 zoning ordinance.

County commissioners unanimously passed the new zoning ordinance Nov. 1.

"Methadone treatment facilities were essentially unknown when the previous ordinance was written," Leskinen wrote. "If the previous ordinance was understood to include a 'methadone treatment facility' as an ordinary medical 'clinic,' there would have been no need for the specific definition and specific provisions regarding a 'methadone treatment facility' in the new ordinance."

Township and school officials cited the legality of methadone users driving away from the facility after treatment, although Leskinen said laws for driving under the influence exempt medically prescribed substances, such as methadone.

Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to treat addiction to heroin and other opiates.

Bujdos is appealing Leskinen's ruling to turn the matter back over to the ZHB, township Supervisor A.J. Boni said.

"We agree with Judge Leskinen. This is a zoning matter," he said. "They misrepresented themselves to the ZHB by saying there would be 250 cars a month. Actually, there will be 250 a day, in a four-hour period."

Boni said the property lacks public water and sewage.

Township solicitor Don McCue will represent the township and Frazier solicitor Jack Purcell will represent the school district in the Supreme Court case, Boni said.

The appeal has been filed, but a hearing date has not been set. Boni said the appeal process could take up to a year.

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