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March 21, 2018

County seeks town rezoning for addiction recovery beds

File Photos/Lawrence Emerson
Fauquier’s board of supervisors wants to rezone this building on Hospital Hill to allow a residential addiction recovery program to operate there.
County officials continue to explore the possibility of buying this building at 540 Hospital Drive to house the Rappahannock Rapidan Community Service Board’s mental health clinic.
I think it makes sense to have it there, next to the medical uses.
— Warrenton Councilman Bob Kravetz
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Staff Journalist
The Warrenton town councilman doubts whether “anyone would have a problem” with establishing an residential addiction recovery center on Hospital Hill.

“I think it makes sense to have it there, next to the medical uses,” said Councilman Bob Kravetz, whose Ward 4 includes the two-story, county-owned building that might house such a program at 340 Hospital Drive.

In a big step toward making that happen, Fauquier’s board of supervisors last week submitted an application to the town to rezone the one-acre property from “Residential Office” to “Public/Semi-Public” use.

Warrenton’s planning commission on May 15 probably will conduct a public hearing on the rezoning application, according to Community Development Director Brandie Schaeffer.

That means the town council, which has final authority, could conduct a June 12 public hearing on the proposal and approve it that night.

While he cannot speak for colleagues, “my guess is there won’t be any opposition to it,” Mr. Kravetz said.

The councilman also anticipates no citizen objections to the potential site.

But a few other pieces must fall into place before the Hospital Drive building could function as an addiction recovery center.

The Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services Board has operated a mental health clinic in the building since 1978.

RRCSB no longer believes the 40-year-old plus building continues to serve its purpose.

“For a recovery center to be there, we have to find another acceptable location” for the clinic, County Administrator Paul McCulla said. “If that doesn’t happen, this project doesn’t go forward.”

Earlier this year, Mr. McCulla received a call from Dr. Norman Mauroner, who suggested that his medical practice building at 540 Hospital Drive might serve the mental health clinic’s needs.

Under a plan Mr. McCulla outlined Feb. 16 during a three-hour “retreat” on opioid addiction:

• The mental health clinic would move to the Mauroner building and a residential addiction recovery center would open in the existing Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services Board building.

• Fauquier and Warrenton-based PATH Foundation would buy the Mauroner building. For tax purposes, the county values the 9,500-square-foot building and 1.4-acre site at $1.3 million. Dr. Mauroner would move his practice to another structure.

• Fauquier would own and rent the Mauroner building to RRCSB for a nominal fee. The state agency would remodel the structure to meet the clinic’s needs.

• Fauquier would rent the existing mental health clinc building for a small sum to Richmond-based McShin Foundation, or another organization, that would operate a residential addiction recovery program.

To operate an addiction recovery center in the RRCSB building, a provider would need special permit approval from the town council.

McShin has expressed interest in establishing an overnight recovery program at the building.

Chris Connell, who manages McShin’s Warrenton office in downtown Warrenton, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Fauquier’s tangled plan to address the mental health clinic’s antiquated space challenges and the demand for local addiction recovery treatment services began to take shape last month.

During a Feb. 8 work session about a $4-million proposal to demolish and replace the mental health services building, the supervisors discussed adding a third floor to a new structure to accommodate an addiction recovery center or psychiatric care program.

Around that time, Dr. Mauroner had notified Mr. McCulla of his willingness to sell his medical office building to the county.

The plan to use the Mauroner and mental health services buildings could cost about $2 million — half the amount required to develop a new structure for the state agency, according to the county administrator.

McShin last fall began providing counseling services in the foundation’s downtown Warrenton office at 30 John Marshall St. The property’s commercial zoning allows that use by-right.
 
The town council on Jan. 9 conducted a public hearing on McShin’s special permit request to operate a 14-bed addiction recovery center in the building.

Citing zoning and the comprehensive plan, the council unanimously denied the application for the 28-day program.

But, moments before the vote, council members pledged to help establish a recovery center elsewhere in town.

“It sounds like there are still a lot of loose ends,” Mayor Powell Duggan said of the county plan to relocate the state’s mental health clinic and make that space available for an addiction recovery center.

But, “I think (the mental health services building) would be a great location for McShin,” added Mr. Duggan, whose only child Dan died of a heroin overdose at age 38 in March 2015. 
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