Prospective Drug Rehab Center in Pocatello Raises Community Concerns

Prospective Drug Rehab Center in Pocatello Raises Community Concerns

The site of a prospective drug rehab center has raised concerns from Pocatello, ID residents. The center would be housed in a private residence in the Whispering Pines neighborhood.

Given a lack of addiction treatment centers around the state, permit applicants Dustin and Wade Morden hope to open the rehabilitation center to assist individuals with substance use disorders.

A 2017 report by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare stated that the nearly 220 of opioid-related overdose deaths in 2015 are underestimated, due to inconsistent reporting throughout the state. The Idaho’s Response to the Opioid Crisis Project and the Idaho Office of Drug Policy have concurrently developed strategies to combat the opioid crisis, including increasing naloxone distribution, developing a data dashboard, and opening additional treatment centers.   

The Bannock County Planning and Development Council held a meeting in March on whether to approve the conditional use permit application for Moonlight Mountain Recovery. A large group of community members attended the meeting to voice their disapproval of the rehab center being placed in their neighborhood.

Many concerns that were raised by the public focused on neighborhood safety, noise levels, limited parking and the potential diminishing of property values. To alleviate concerns, the Morden brothers asked their attorney to speak on their behalf at the council meeting.

Edward ‘Ted’ McBride, managing partner at the Vial Fotheringham Law Firm Salt Lake City office, explained to the crowd and council board members how the right to offer persons with substance use disorders a location to rehabilitate from drug use is protected under the Fair Housing Act.

“With some limited exceptions, there are basically protections that afford recovering addicts the same treatment that non-addicts are entitled to, vis-à-vis housing,” he said. “The public views the residential rehab as a business. So many of them were objecting, saying, ‘No, this is a business.’ Even part of the city council questioned me on that. But in the eyes of the federal law, under the Fair Housing Act, it’s a residence. That’s very difficult for people to comprehend and understand, and that is part of why I went to that meeting and discussed these issues with the county attorney.”

Council board members questioned McBride if the integration of a rehabilitation center would create a financial burden for the county. “The accommodation wouldn’t cost the county anything,” he replied. “There are no additional municipal services that would have to be provided.”

Whispering Pines neighborhood residents shared… (Continue Reading)