Residents of the rural eastern Baltimore County community of Loreley -- fighting to prevent a private methadone clinic from opening in their area -- face the prospect of another such clinic just over the border in Harford County.
State health department officials say they are within days of approving a clinic in the community of Joppa, about five miles north of Loreley.
"One has no impact on the other," said Todd Rosendale, policy chief for the Maryland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration about the two clinics. With high-quality heroin plentiful and cheap in the area, he said, "there are sufficient numbers of patients to go around."
And state health Secretary Dr. Martin P. Wasserman said Friday, through a spokesman, that the proposed White Marsh Institute in Loreley will not be certified until Baltimore County finishes a zoning review and gives its approval.
But Larry Lee, president of the Bowerman-Loreley Beach Community Association, says his group is firmly opposed to both clinics. The group plans to run chartered buses to Towson for the zoning hearing Sept. 9 on the proposed White Marsh clinic at 11400 Pulaski Highway.
Though he acknowledged that Loreley experienced no problems from a clinic that previously operated in Joppa, residents fear the proposed operations anyway.
"This is a rural area. The police don't patrol here," he said. "There's an indoor soccer arena that serves thousands of kids just a quarter mile from the [proposed Loreley] center."
The proposed Harford clinic, already outfitted at 623-A Pulaski Highway, would replace one shut down in the same building by state and federal authorities months ago because it wasn't being operated properly, Rosendale said.
Joppa Health Services Inc., owned by Martin Kaplan, who
operates three other private clinics in Eldersburg, Laurel and Glen Burnie, could get permission to open within days, Rosendale said.
Joppa clinic director Michael Bradley said he has encountered no opposition in Harford County.
But Harford County Councilwoman Susan B. Heselton, a Republican from Joppa, said that while she and some residents are opposed, they feel helpless.
"Legally, there's nothing we can do," she said, explaining that commercial zoning along that strip of highway allows virtually any enterprise.
Meanwhile, state officials support the opening of additional clinics to provide badly needed drug treatment for a growing number of addicts, Rosendale said. Neither Baltimore nor Harford counties have private methadone clinics, though each has a public clinic.
Rosendale said there are 911 Baltimore County addicts in methadone treatment. Some receive treatment in Baltimore City, since the county's one clinic, in Timonium, can handle only 220 people. And many of those 220 don't live in the county but come from surrounding jurisdictions on their way to work.
"There are waiting lists everywhere," he said, arguing that the Loreley location is "across from a landfill. If you can't put one there, where can you put one?"
Neal Berch, a partner in the White Marsh operation, said he will open immediately if he wins zoning approval and gets state certification. "I think there's enough people up there for two or three clinics," he said.
Pub Date: 9/01/97