WJAC-TV: Judge Declares Ordinance Unconstitutional, City Forced to Pay Medical Company
According to documents obtained by WJAC-TV, the city owes $132,801.64 to RHJ Medical Center Inc. City officials said a judge ruled a portion of City Ordinance 1720 unconstitutional.
RHJ Medical Center wanted to bring a methadone clinic to Beaver Drive in DuBois during the mid-2000’s but under the ordinance, they were not able to.
The ordinance reads that “offices for the conduct of professional services, such as legal, medical, psychological, therapy, dental, orthodontic, real estate, engineering and architectural with the exception of methadone treatment facilities and other drug treatment facilities of any kind which shall be prohibited in the Commercial-Highway Zoning District.”
In this instance, the clinic was going to open along Beaver Drive. The Beaver Meadow Walkway is located behind the building and considered a park. Under the ordinance, a methadone clinic could not be within 500 feet of a park.
According to the court order, the judge declared “Ordinance 1720 unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause, same ordinance being null and void and having no effect.”
City officials told WJAC-TV this debt will be paid for through insurance, not taxpayer dollars.
RHJ attorney Matthew Monsour said they’ve asked a judge for more than $2 million for loss of profits. Even though they are only to receive just more than $132,000, Monsour said he’s pleased with the outcome.
“Drug treatment centers serve as a vital function in communities,” he said. He added that municipalities need to treat methadone clinics like any other medical facility.
City officials said ordinance 1720 will be changed.