DUBOIS – DuBois City Council will consider holding a public hearing for RHJ Medical Center Inc.
DuBois City Mayor John “Herm” Suplizio announced Monday night that council had received a request from the officials representing the drug treatment facility for a certificate of use. As part of that request, a public hearing must be held to get public input on the opening of a drug treatment facility that uses methadone to treat patients.
Suplizio noted that while the city had received the application for the permit, they had yet to receive a payment of $100 from the facility’s officials. Once a decision is made to hold the public hearing, it would take at least 45 days before the hearing could take place.
Toni Cherry, solicitor for the City of DuBois said that the request was officially received on Jan. 11. As part of the process, representatives of RHJ Medical Center had to provide DuBois City Council with all of the names of real estate owners within 500-feet of the drug treatment center’s site at 994 Beaver Drive.
Those owners will be contacted by mail, then given the opportunity to voice their concerns, if any, RHJ Medical Center Inc. officials.
Cherry asked any real estate owners within the 500-feet distance of 994 Beaver Drive to contact DuBois City Council.
“Please provide the city with your name and address so the city can notify you with the date and time (of the public hearing),” asked Cherry.
Cherry also said that real estate owners within that 500-feet are not the only ones invited to address RHJ Medical Center Inc. representatives. Cherry noted that residents, parishioners, students, parents, anyone with an opinion should keep their eyes on the public notices so they know when to come and have the chance to voice their opinion.
“RHJ will have the opportunity to present their case,” said Cherry.
RHJ Medical Center Inc. and the City of DuBois had been at odds over the 994 Beaver Drive location since the opened on Oct. 10, a day after they were asked by the City of DuBois not to open until the proper steps were taken.
It had been city council’s contention that the clinic was in violation of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code section 621, which regulates distances from certain areas and structures that methadone clinics can operate. DuBois City Council argued that the facility is within 30-feet of the Beaver Meadow Walkway. The city contended the walkway is a public park, which is one of the areas that is covered under the law. Section 621 prohibits methadone treatment facilities from operating within 500-feet of public parks, churches, schools and other structures.
The City of DuBois had also contended that RHJ Medical Center needed to apply for a certificate of use, which it did not do.
As part of an injunction the city requested and RHJ eventually agreed to, the medical center was to remain closed at 994 Beaver Drive, and their sign had to remain covered or be removed.
At least one public hearing will need to be held, though DuBois City Council can call for more public hearings if needed.
Keep reading GantDaily.com for more information on this story as it becomes available.