CON hearing scheduled for Aug. 24 for Gray addiction treatment clinic

Zach Vance • Updated Aug 4, 2016 at 9:06 AM

East Tennessee State University and Mountain States Health Alliance are pursuing a late February 2017 date for their proposed addiction treatment clinic at Gray Commons Circle to be completed.

But potential hurdles remain.

Before the clinic can open, the Johnson City Planning Commission and City Commission must approve a rezoning request, and the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency will have to approve the clinic’s certificate of need application. 

The rezoning request will be heard Aug. 9 during the Planning Commission’s next meeting. If approved, the request will be sent in ordinance form to the City Commission for consideration on three readings.

The clinic’s certificate of need application would then be heard by the HSDA Board on Aug. 24 in Nashville.

“We’ll have our attorneys there. I mean that’s the real deal. That’s where the decision is going to be made,” said Alan Levine, CEO of Mountain States.

During the CON meeting, Mountain States and ETSU will have the opportunity to make a short presentation on why they believe the Tri-Cities region needs an addiction treatment clinic, and how the CON application meets the necessary criteria for being approved.

The 11-member board members will then ask questions of the applicant, any supporting party or opposing party, then discuss it in a public forum.

The HSDA board will then vote to approve or deny the application. Occasionally, the application will be deferred by the board so additional information can be obtained.

Within a week of the decision, Mountain States and ETSU will be issued approval or denial letters, and if approved, the actual certification will be sent four weeks after the decision.

An appeal can also be made within 15 days of the decision.

Before the HSDA’s decision, a public meeting will be held Friday at Daniel Boone for Gray residents to meet with HSDA members. 

Rep. Micah Van Huss requested the meeting, which will run 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., so Gray residents interested in the process won’t have to travel to Nashville. 

“I asked for the meeting. Given the distance involved, very few, if any, of my constituents will be able to make the trip to Nashville to make their concerns known to the agency and board,” Huss said in a press release.

“I don’t believe the Agency’s report to the board will convey an accurate picture of the situation unless someone from the Agency is able to hear these concerns personally. People have a lot of questions about the CON process.”

Levine said the HSDA members attending the Daniel Boone meeting will likely be more interested in the need for the clinic rather than its location.

Another variable that could potentially derail the February 2017 timeline is if Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge finds a more suitable site to replace Gray Commons.

As it stands, Eldridge said he still hasn’t recommended a site to Mountain States for consideration, although he’s looked at 37 potential sites.

Eldridge said he’s looked at Mountain States-owned property, the Med Tech Parkway and commercial properties on North Roan Street, West Market Street and South Roan Street.

However, none of the properties have what is needed to open a medication-assisted treatment facility.

“Either the building was not an appropriately designated street or the property just couldn’t accommodate the 10-to-1 parking requirement,” Eldridge said. “Then there were some others that was a really good site, but it was just a really expensive site.”

With a glimmer of hope remaining for Eldridge to find an alternative, he still has his eye on a couple of potential sites.

“We’re about to run out of time. We’re on borrowed time right now. We are working through the final couple of sites that I think are strong prospects to be used,” Eldridge said.

“I think (those sites) are certainly more suitable than the site in Gray in regard to little or no residential impact. But there is not a perfect site, believe me.”

Levine said the final deadline to consider an alternate location would be the CON hearing.

“(The CON) is a critical factor. If the location changes, we’d have to withdraw our CON application and submit a new one. So that’s really the issue for us,” Levine said.

“As far as we’re concerned, Gray is the location unless something as good or better comes along. So we’re moving forward as though we’re going to Gray. In terms of deadline, I’d asked if we could get this resolved by Aug. 1. They’re still working diligently on it and at this phase, obviously I want to give them every opportunity to identify an alternative.”

Email Zach Vance at [email protected] Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP

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