The City of Bloomington is proposing a temporary moratorium on new substance use treatment centers.
The city says in a statement the proposal would allow leaders to pause further development of the industry and study how other communities are using zoning ordinances to ensure the facilities are being incorporated in a way that benefits all.
The proposal comes after several meetings with representatives from the growing number of treatment centers in Bloomington.
The for-profit Indiana Center for Recovery opened on Bloomington’s west side last year. And a methadone clinic is set to open its doors next month off Liberty Drive as part of a statewide expansion of addiction treatment.
The city says it wasn’t prepared for the influx of businesses as a result of the opioid epidemic.
“These are a new business model for us in many cases, so we aren’t sure if the definitions we have now are the right definitions or really accurate,” says Director of Community Engagement Mary Catherine Carmichael.
The ordinance would bar new rehab facilities from opening in Bloomington for up to one year. Carmichael says people will still have plenty of options for treatment.
“So we have at least 13 treatment facilities of some kind functioning in Bloomington right now and they will not be affected by this,” Carmichael says. “This is just for brand new entities that want to come into town.”
President of the Monroe County Commissioners Amanda Barge says the county initiated conversations with the city about what role local government should play in regulating treatment centers. She says they were considering everything from changing zoning ordinances, to enacting a different type of moratorium.
“We were hoping to coordinate with the city on this, so we were a little surprised to see them taking action on this because we actually hadn’t talked to them yet about it,” Barge says.
Barge says she has several concerns about the city’s proposed moratorium. She’s worried one year is too long, given the nationwide opioid crisis. And she fears it could lead new treatment centers to set up shop in the county, instead.
“And of course one of the main issues with that is transportation,” she says. “Many of the people who go to treatment don’t have transportation.”
Barge says the county wants to do more research before taking any action of its own.
Director of the Indiana Recovery Alliance Chris Abert says while the proposal is likely well-intentioned, it could create compound issues of addiction in the community. He worries it could limit access to those needing treatment.
“A year is a long time for a moratorium and we’re in the middle of an opioid crisis, the likes of which we’ve never seen,” he says.
Bloomington isn’t the first Indiana community to consider such action. Two years ago, New Albany leaders placed a six-month moratorium on methadone or suboxone clinics.
The city plan commission is expected to consider the proposal June 11. It could go to the city council for a vote as early as June 20.