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Hawkins County seeks to limit pain clinics
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ROGERSVILLE (AP) — Officials in an East Tennessee county are drafting regulations that would make it nearly impossible for pain clinics to locate there.
The Kingsport Times-News reports the public safety committee of the Hawkins County Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to move forward with the proposal.
Commissioner John Metz said most municipalities within the county have measures that prohibit the clinics from locating within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, churches and businesses that sell alcohol. He says he’d like the county to be proactive in developing similar regulations. Currently, it has no zoning in unincorporated areas.
“What we’d like to do is put restrictions to where they could not operate within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, church, park, residential property, or an entity selling alcohol,” Metz said. “When you throw residential property in there, that pretty much covers everywhere. Right now there are no pain clinic regulations in Hawkins County, so there’s basically nothing we can do.”
Commissioner Darrell Gilliam said there’s already a drug problem in the region and he thinks a pain clinic locating in the area would make it worse.
“It would be a lot worse on the public, it would be a lot worse on the sheriff’s department, and if we don’t get some regulations in place and get ahead of this, they could move into any neighborhood,” Gilliam said. “I feel like our sheriff is doing an exceptional job battling the drug problem in Hawkins County, and the last thing we need is a pain clinic opening a floodgate of more narcotic painkillers onto our streets. It’s not something that’s going to help our county. It’s going to hurt it.”
The committee will now seek legal advice in drafting the proposal, which would have to pass the committee before it goes to the full county commission for a vote.