Medico 140 LLC filed a lawsuit against the Andover Zoning Board of Appeals in Essex Superior Court Thursday over a portion of the board’s Dec. 13 decision on a proposed drug treatment facility on Haverhill Street.
While the board approved the overall plan over neighbors’ objections, it did not grant a variance which would have exempted Medico from the town’s bylaw on minimum parking requirements. Medico argued and presented traffic studies showing the residential drug treatment facility would not require as many parking spots required by the bylaw.
The board voted 3-2 in favor of granting the variance, falling one vote short of the required 4-1 super majority. The planning board approved the variance in July, and Town Counsel Tom Urbelis advised the zoning board it could grant the variance at a public hearing in August.
Medico 140 is already operating an outpatient facility at the property it acquired in March 2021 for $660,000. The ZBA approval, which is also likely to be appealed in Massachusetts land court by opponents, allows Medico to build a 39,000-square, 64-bed inpatient addiction treatment facility. The approval also approves construction of a new 9,180-square-foot building on the Doctors Park property for the outpatient program, known as Topsail.
Haverhill Street residents have packed the ZBA and planning board meetings on the proposal. They have raised concerns about traffic and the facility being used as a walk-in methadone clinic in the future. They have filed an appeal of that decision with the Massachusetts Land Court. That case, which argues neighbors were not given appropriate notice before the September ZBA hearing, is still pending.
The ZBA members who voted against granting the variance cited a “disbelief in the data presented” by Medico and said they believed it “could cause a public hazard on the adjacent street…due to overflowed parked vehicles” in the Dec. 13 decision.
“No data, studies or factual evidence was presented to refute or counter Medico’s presentation of the parking demand for the proposed Facility,” Medico said in its complaint. “The reasoning provided by the two members of the ZBA voting against the requested accommodation is pretext, as there has been public opposition to the Facility in this neighborhood because of the disability of the individuals to be treated and unfounded fear and prejudice.”
Medico, which opened a similar facility in Wilmington last year after a four-year legal battle, is asking the court to overturn the ZBA’s decision and award compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. The complaint also alleged discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.