By Diana Bowley of the News Staff - DEXTER - The Town Council agreed Thursday to send a proposed moratorium on the establishment of methadone clinics to the planning board for review and possible inclusion in Dexter's land use plan. There have been no inquiries made about opening a methadone clinic in Dexter, but the council is aware of controversies in Bangor, where a methadone clinic is planned for a retail area, and in Rockland, and wants to be prepared. Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to detoxify people who are addicted to opiates.
The town's existing land use ordinance does not regulate the establishment and operation of methadone clinics, nor does it adequately control the permitted location of such a clinic, according to Town Attorney Eric Stumpfel of Dover-Foxcroft, who drafted the proposed ordinance.
The town's existing land use ordinance is inadequate to prevent serious public harm that would result from the inappropriate location of a methadone clinic in the town, Stumpfel told the council Thursday.
In support of the ordinance, Dexter Police Chief Art Roy said that methadone treatment often leads users to cocaine and OxyContin abuse. In some areas of the country, the clinics tend to increase the drug activity and crime in the community where they operate, he said Thursday.
The addiction to opiates in Maine has risen dramatically, according to Roy. He said that in the last decade, the number of those addicted to opiates has increased from 495 to 3,185 in the state. In addition, 42 of 129 accidental drug deaths in Maine in 2002 involved methadone, he said.
"We don't have a known heroin problem here in Dexter," Roy said, but he added that cocaine, marijuana, pills and OxyContin are problem areas.
The planning board will have six months to review the proposed moratorium ordinance and consider incorporating it into the town's land use plan. The process will involve two public hearings before the matter is returned to the council for adoption.
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