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Methadone Clinic on Chelmsford Border Approved By Lowell ZBA

The facility was approved 4-1, with conditions.

In a reversal of last summer's decision, the Lowell Zoning Board of Appeals voted 4-1 for conditional approval of a methadone clinic on Old Canal Drive, just a few dozen feet from the Chelmsford border. 

The vote came at the end of a hearing forced by a recent land court decision that invalidated the previous vote, which in itself had led to litigation between HabitOpCo, the operators of the clinic, and the City of Lowell. 

The only vote in opposition came from Gary Perrin, who nevertheless stated that he was upset with comments made in the media following the previous decision.

"This decision may be agreeable to some and not agreeable to some, but it is here," he said. 

Chelmsford Board of Selectmen chairman Matt Hanson was on hand to deliver a letter stating concerns from himself and his colleagues.

Even though the property abuts Chelmsford, it remains unclear what legal action, if any, the Town of Chelmsford could take. Still, Hanson voiced his disagreement with the decision. 

"A lot of the concerns we had from before were still not addressed," he said. "In the last presentation we heard, many of the patients walked to the current facility but tonight we heard that very few of the patients will be walking with no explanation of how that will happen."

Attorneys for the applicants pledged to pay $20,000 for sidewalks if pedestrian traffic along Steadman Street did rise above expected levels.

According to their estimates, an approximate 500 car trips would be made to the facility on an average day.

There were also concerns voiced by Calvary Church, which operates a religious school across the street, and other Lowell and Chelmsford residents like Barry Van Wyck of Buckman Drive.

"It was interesting that there was nobody there speaking for it, other than the applicants, but there were a lot of people speaking against it. Apparently that didn't matter," said Van Wyck, who lives less than a mile away from the site of the proposed clinic. "I'm not surprised (at the decision), but I'm surprised that we even had a second hearing."

A series of conditions were attached to approval of the permit, most notably an administrative review of the site six months after occupancy to examine traffic and safety issues.

An LRTA bus stop is expected to be at the property within the next sixty days according to discussion during the hearing. 

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