Detox center proposed for Peterborough

  • Peterborough Planning Board Chair Ivy Vann and member Joe Hanlon listen to a presentation on a proposed detox facility off Route 202 during a meeting on Monday. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 5:50PM

The Peterborough Planning Board got its first glimpse at a 64-bed detox center that is proposed for construction behind the Peterborough Shopping Plaza during a preliminary consultation on Monday night.

Steve Ryan of Francestown, a real estate developer, said Monday that after moving back to the Monadnock area six years ago, he at first didn’t have a grasp of how bad the substance abuse and misuse in the state had gotten, but slowly began to open his eyes to the problem, and started looking for a solution. Part of that, he said, was getting treatment closer to home. 

“I began to look around and talk to people, and put together a team to provide that service,” said Ryan.

A preliminary consultation is a non-binding meeting between developers of a potential project and the Planning Board to identify any potential issues prior to an official application being submitted. 

The detox center is proposed to be built on a strip of land behind the Peterborough Shopping Plaza, between     Rite Aid and the Dunkin Donuts. Though only a few hundred feet off Route 202, the land is screened from view from the road.

John Christian, CEO of Modern Assistance Programs, a company that provides support services for mental health, substance abuse, and work-life balance, said his company works with at least one Peterborough employer to provide referral services for employees that need it.

“A lot of times, when someone needs medical detox, 99 times out of 100, we’re bringing them to Massachusetts,” said Christian. 

Though the room was full of residents in attendance to discuss upcoming proposed zoning changes, there were minimal questions from the crowd, who asked questions relating to the function of the facility, but raised no concerns about the concept.

Resident Tim Donovan offered words of support for the idea of having a detox center in town. 

“This would offer them a chance to stay in New Hampshire,” he said. 

In response to questions, Christian and other members of the presentation team described the proposed facility as “self-contained” meaning that once a patient is checked in, they would not leave the facility until they had completed detox and a step-down program that might last several weeks, but usually no more than 30 days. They would not be let out to the community until they were ready to be discharged, and would not be receiving visitors or even receive mail. 

The facility, as proposed during the consultation phase, would have 32 beds for medical detox, and 32 for the step-down process. The facility would be two stories and about 30,000 square feet and be manned by between 60 and 70 full- and part-time employees, including nurses, nurse practitioners, a medical director, clinicians and case managers, recovery specialists, support staff, housekeeping, maintenance, and billing and record keeping. It would provide services for both men and women over the age of 18, and accept both Medicaid and private insurance.

If approved, this building might be one of the first built in town after the implementation of a new, form-based code that residents will be voting on in May. Jim Callahan, an attorney speaking on behalf of the proposal, asked that the board consider the new zoning when looking at the proposed detox center, despite the fact that an application would be likely to come before it was officially put into place.

With that in mind, Planning Chair Ivy Vann told Ryan and his representatives that initial drawings of the center would have to be modified slightly to fit any of the proposed acceptable forms. Other members suggested that there may be the opportunity for some leeway, as the building is not visible from the street and would not be part of the landscape.