Even though it had an 'open' sign out Monday, the controversial Emmaus Medical and Counseling suboxone clinic in Baileyton was closed.
"The planning commission recommended that the clinic there be shut down," Baileyton Town Planner Ross Phillips said. "So, basically, they've turned it over to the executive, the Mayor, who will follow all the procedures to have the clinic shut down."
Phillips tells us the recommendation to close the clinic down isn't because of its location beneath an apartment unit and close to a church. It's because it's in the wrong business zone. "The clinic is in violation of zoning ordinance because it's a substance abuse clinic," Phillips said. "Those clinics are only allowed in the M-1 zone, which is light industrial but the location of the clinic is in the B-3 arterial business district."
Business owners and residents within that district have been outspoken in their opposition to the clinic, which has been open now only about a month. One employee of Cuz's Drive-In tells us she has mixed feelings. "I feel like it's a good thing and a bad thing," Megan McAmis said. "I have an uncle that's actually in rehab; he does the suboxone and it helps him. Then I understand why the people of Baileyton are freaking out, why they don't want it here. If you abuse it then it has the bad people that come in."
Phillips tells us it's not unusual for a clinic like this to try to move into a small town. He says it's something his office through the First Tennessee Development sees a lot of. "We have contracts with 21 communities and we have had this issue pop up," Phillips added. "We've reacted by putting these zoning ordinances in place to control where these clinics are located."
For now, pending appeals, it looks like the location of this clinic won't be in this particular building. It's unclear how the clinic was able to open in that location in the first place.
Our efforts to talk to clinic representatives on Monday were unsuccessful. The matter will now be in the hands of attorneys for the clinic and for Baileyton and Greene County.