Opiate treatment clinic to open in Ringgold stirs controversy - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Opiate treatment clinic to open in Ringgold stirs controversy

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RINGGOLD, GA (WRCB) -

An opiate treatment facility opening in Ringgold off of Highway 41 is stirring up controversy as some residents have safety concerns.

The business is set to open at the former City Electric Supply building off Highway 41.

The business location is just a few miles from the downtown business district of Ringgold, and close to local schools and daycares, which has many residents concerned when it comes to public safety. A Facebook page and online petition, of about 500 supporters, was created in an effort to gain awareness and stop the opening Wednesday, August, 24.

"This campaign is not about shutting down methadone centers," says Shelley Fow, campaign organizer. "This campaign is about there is a proper place for these types of businesses and this close to our schools, this close to our downtown business district; it's just not it"

Fow says what she's most frustrated about is the lack of notice from city officials.

"I think the part that's troubling people the most is that we lived all right here and didn't know it was going on," Fow says.

But others in the community say they're okay with the opening, as long as the clinic vows to help fight addiction, and not make it worse.

"As long as they hold to the guidelines and are medically responsible with prescriptions and distribution of such things then it's fine," Jennifer Avery says. "You can't ban something because you don't like it. That's not what this country is about. That's not what this community is about."

City mayor Nick Millwood says the business has been permitted to operate as a medical clinic by the state of Georgia. He says the clinic is close to being cleared to open, in what he estimates, a couple of months.

Millwood says the city has no jurisdiction in reviewing or voting on license permitting, and therefore has no control over the clinic's opening. The only jurisdiction the city has is in regard to city zoning and planning. However, he shares the concerns with city residents.

Millwood says he and other city officials have spoken to police, making them aware of safety concerns. He says officers are willing to make sure the area is protected. In addition, Millwood says he is taking steps to push for stronger legislation to give cities the ability to fight off these types of clinics during the state's current temporary moratorium, which prevents any new drug treatment centers from being approved for one year.

Stay with Channel 3 and WRCBtv.com for more updates to this story.

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