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  • The Mount Airy News

    City pushing pain clinic rules

    By Tom Joyce,


    After recently adopting regulations for vape, hemp and tobacco stores in Mount Airy for the first time ever, city officials now are eyeing two other entities for similar treatment: pain management clinics and residential care facilities.

    This has taken shape with proposed zoning amendments, for which a public hearing has been scheduled during a June 20 meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners beginning at 6 p.m.

    Pain management clinics or centers represent a fairly new phenomenon on the American health-care scene, with specialists at such facilities engaged in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain.

    This has included many cases of beneficial results for patients, although problems have been documented in recent years in some areas.

    In one instance, a clinic doctor illegally prescribed pain pills that fed a drug problem in Kentucky, while another in Alabama prescribed oxycodone for other than legitimate medical purposes.

    A former physician assistant in Louisiana also was named in a scheme to illegally distribute 40,000-plus oxycodone pills, among other reports around the country.

    While no such incidents have been mentioned in relation to the new regulations proposed in Mount Airy, these seem to be a means of controlling such entities to prevent problems in the absence of existing oversight measures.

    “The purpose of these zoning amendments is to provide guidelines for the establishment and operation of new pain management clinics and reduce the number of zoning districts that residential care facilities are permitted within the city of Mount Airy,” according to city planning documents.

    Residential care refers to shelters and halfway houses.

    “The proposed amendments aim to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of residents and ensure the orderly development of the city,” the planning documents state.

    Limited access

    Among Mount Airy’s various residential, business and industrial zoning districts, new pain management clinics would be allowed only in B-5 (Medical Business) zones, under the proposed regulations.

    These facilities also would be subjected to other rules.

    For example, no clinic is to be allowed within 1,000 feet of a church, school, library, child-care center, public park or existing pain management clinic or one that has been permitted, in a straight line from property line to property line.

    In addition, none would be permitted within 500 feet of an existing residence or residentially zoned property.

    The measure further specifies that clinics adhere to all federal, state and local regulations, including ones pertaining to advertisements and legality of products prescribed.

    Allowable zones listed for residential care facilities, meanwhile, include R-4 (Office-Residential), B-2 (General Business) and B-5 (Medical Business), but no general residential areas.

    Mount Airy Planning Director Andy Goodall also pointed out Tuesday afternoon that both pain management clinics and residential care facilities would be subject to “special requirements.”

    Those involve additional standards for specific uses other than the general zoning standards for all uses, Goodall explained.

    The Mount Airy Planning Board, an advisory group to the commissioners, reviewed the proposed city zoning amendments in a meeting on May 29 and voted 8-0 to recommend approval.

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