Suboxone Clinic in Historic East Side Mansion Faces Opposition from Neighbors
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Residential neighbors, medical professionals, elected officials, and representatives of schools in the vicinity filled a ground floor room of the historic Lippitt House at the CHNA meeting to discuss the issue — but the new owners of the Tillinghast mansion, who recently placed the large and controversial "Suboxone Available Spring 2017" sign out front, were not in attendance
As GoLocalProv.com was first to report in December:
One of Providence’s most acclaimed historic mansions is being transformed into a suboxone clinic. The mansion, on the corner of Lloyd Avenue and Thayer Street on the East Side, was purchased last April by Oxford Investment, whose corporate manager is Johnston resident Ricki Dion. The mansion was purchased for $1.6 million from Deborah Zaki.
“We had a lovely neighborhood. I’ve been here 25 years. The story I love telling, and it’s more traffic related, but there was a dog, Emma, who would park herself in the middle of the street at Lloyd and Brown. She was our speed bump,” said neighbor Ann Metcalf. “It was a neighborhood, lots of children — it was really ‘baby block,’ 25, 30 years ago. Potlucks, neighbors helping each other. It’s not the right neighborhood for a clinic.”
Dion, who manages the corporation Oxford Investment which purchased the East Side mansion where the drug treatment facility is being advertised, is a former Providence Police officer, has deep ties to organized crime, and in 1999 was convicted by federal prosecutors for cocaine dealing, extortion, and racketeering.
The more than hour-long discussion included representatives from Mayor Jorge Elorza’s office, elected officials, and concerned neighbors, including Brown University, who prior to the meeting told CHNA chair Josh Eisen that they “stood with CHNA” if the organization decided to oppose the clinic.
“Our primary focus is on the zoning, licensing, having any clinic at this location, questions as to whether or how this can come to pass,” said Eisen, who during his opening remarks shared a copy of a variance to the residential zoning that allowed for a doctor’s clinic - in 1955.
Tackling Complex Issues
Dr. Alan Gordon, who is the head of psychiatric services at Butler Hospital less than a mile a away, spoke to suboxone clinics — but also questioned the nature of the larger “Suboxone Available Spring 2017” sign that had neighbors concerned.
“I know a lot about suboxone and suboxone clinics. It’s doctors following guidelines. There are sham doctors that are out of line, but the majority of doctors are compliant,” said Gordon. “It’s not a zoning or a licensing of clinic component, unless they’re dispensing. It’s a strange sign though, it does stand out.”
“A first year physician, the first year you’re limited to 30 patients and 8 hours of added training — and capped at 100 patients after that,” said Gordon.
“A lot of comments are, is this is inappropriate for the location. There are 4 parking spots on the property,” said Eisen. “They’re talking about 500 patients, they’ll fight for parking with everyone else coming into the neighborhood. What we’re trying to find out is whether it can or should be opened at all — and that’s what we’re moving forward with, with the city.”
Neighbors raised the issue as to whether the original variance on the property afforded to a doctor back in the 1950s had current standing, given a doctor's office has not been in the historic mansion in years.
"This is considered use by a special permit," said Jeff Lykins with the city planning department. "It would have to be limited to what it’s defined [as] in the variance. I’ve had no submittal to me or the department on this. They did tell me their intent."
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Zach Darrow: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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John Florez: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Vin Mesolella: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Dave Paolo: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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The Silks: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Ed Brady: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Colonel Ann Assumpico: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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