Plans get scrubbed for drug treatment center in Austintown Plaza

AUSTINTOWN — A drug treatment center is no longer part of the plan for Austintown Plaza.

Township Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli confirmed Tuesday that a medication-assisted treatment facility will not move into a 9,000-square-foot space in the JCPenney building next door to Buffalo Wild Wings.

Residents voiced strong objections to the clinic’s presence at a Board of Trustees meeting April 2.

The company proposing the treatment facility is Concerted Care Group of Burtonsville, Maryland. The company provides drug-assisted substance abuse treatment — using U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments such as suboxone, Vivitrol and methadone — as well as inpatient and outpatient medical and mental health services, including individual and group therapy and intensive psychiatric treatment.

Concerted Care operates facilities in Baltimore, Brooklyn, Frederick and Elkton, Maryland. It is also opening facilities in Hagerstown and Cumberland as well as Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Dover, Delaware.

Concerted Care has an ongoing relationship with Maryland-based Washco Austintown LLC, which bought the building from Austintown Plaza Ltd. in September 2022 for $3.4 million. Washco is owned by Joe Anthony of A2Z Real Estate in Ligonier, Pa.

“I got a call from Alvin Nichols with Concerted Care about 11 a.m. last Friday, and he said they were postponing it and had no objection if Washco wanted to lease it to another business,” Crivelli said.

At the trustees meeting two weeks ago, residents — many informed by a letter circulated around the township in March — voiced their opposition and became more incensed when they learned the facility essentially was approved.

The Zoning Board of Appeals voted on the matter in the fall when now trustee Bruce Shepas was still a member. Shepas was the lone “no” vote, while Joseph Koch, Michael Beaudis, Robert Satterlee and Dale Basista all voted in favor.

Crivelli, as zoning inspector, was bound by the board’s vote to issue the permit, although he had not done so yet.

Crivelli and trustees said the township would face a major lawsuit for discrimination if he did not issue the permit. However, Concerted Care’s decision renders the matter moot.

Crivelli said Nichols did not elaborate much on the company’s reasoning except that it prefers to focus on other projects closer to home.

He said he did not think residents’ opposition to the facility factored into the decision.

“That type of use is going to face opposition wherever you are,” he said. “They have very strong community outreach, where they invite local officials to come visit, and an event to welcome in corporate neighbors — the other businesses of the plaza — and an event for other people in the community who wanted to know more. They probably have faced opposition everywhere they’ve gone.”

Crivelli said he did not think the facility would have been a problem.

“I think if they came here they would probably be successful, and the problems people were worried about would most likely not happen, and if they did happen, we’d deal with them,” he said. “They not only seem to have a strong program to deal with opposition, but I think they know how to be a good neighbor.”

Crivelli said he does not have any other proposals for the space right now. Other media have reported that the retailer Five Below will be leasing some space in the building but Crivelli said that is still speculation until he receives plans from the company.

Nichols did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Have an interesting story? Contact Dan Pompili at dpompili@vindy.com


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