Paging Dr. Broomell: Cecil County Commissioners Differ on Diagnosis of Drug Clinics, Law, Litigation

January 3, 2012

The paramedics should have been on alert Tuesday morning as three Cecil County Commissioners elevated their blood pressure in a war of words over what constitutes a “clinic” and efforts by Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4) to push through an ordinance aimed at limiting or blocking a proposed methadone drug treatment facility in the former Rose’s Diner building on Route 40.

Although the proposed zoning law change does not mention any specific location and does not regulate the type of treatment that may be provided by a medical clinic, the measure is clearly aimed at the previously announced facility that has obtained some permits under existing law and begun renovations of the facility. Area residents are strongly opposed to the location of a drug treatment clinic near their community.

Much of the commissioners’ discussion at a worksession Tuesday morning centered on whether the county would face costly lawsuits, and the prospect of losing in court, if the proposed ordinance were to be applied retroactively to an already announced clinic project.

After a lengthy 12/19/11 Planning Commission hearing on the issue, that panel suggested that the commissioners “revisit the definition of clinic with input from concerned citizens and the medical community.” Leading county medical and substance abuse groups have questioned the term “clinic” in the proposal that could impact other medical, dental or even physical therapy facilities.

But Broomell pushed ahead with bringing the proposal to a public hearing at Tuesday’s biweekly evening meeting.

Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) questioned why the Commissioners would proceed with a public hearing without following the planning panel’s advice to allow “stakeholders” to address the troublesome ‘clinic” definition.

Broomell said she “disagreed” with Hodge’s interpretation of the planning panel’s statement, and added that she was also “surprised” that all the leading local medical experts still opposed the zoning measure as drafted. Those experts include Union Hospital and the local drug and alcohol advisory panel.

“They’re burying their head in the sand,” Broomell said of the medical professionals. She said they were “ignoring” the problems of “pain management clinics” that can be havens for drug-seeking patients and “abortion clinics.”

Dr. Kenneth Lewis, the president and CEO of Union Hospital, wrote the commissioners in opposition to a proposed clinic-limiting zoning ordinance, saying it was “over broad.” Dr. Lewis, who is both a medical doctor and an attorney, wrote in a 10/17/11 letter that “Substance abuse, like homelessness and other social ills, cannot be addressed by the imposition of zoning requirements.”

Dr. Lewis also said that a “literal” interpretation of the term “clinic” could impose “an undue regulatory burden on primary care and psychiatric practices throughout the county that offer basic substance abuse counseling and management of patients who need to be weaned from narcotics or anti-anxiety medications.” Furthermore, access to medical help for alcohol and drug abuse problems “is already limited” in Cecil County and new restrictions “might force physicians to further limit or terminate this important component of their practices.”

The proposal focuses on parking spaces and buffer areas to limit proximity to churches, schools or residential areas, and specifies what zoning areas would be permitted to house out-patient medical facilities. But Hodge said the practical effect would be to limit location of any medical facility in certain areas, such as northwestern and southern Cecil County, that have been declared “medically underserved areas” that lack even adequate primary care medical services.

Broomell and Commissioner Tari Moore (R-2) got into a heated exchange after Moore began to say she had “searched for solutions” but felt the proposal was too “far reaching.”

Broomell glared and interrupted, “Excuse me, Tari. YOU searched?” Broomell implied that only she had researched the issue thoroughly and examined laws and ordinances in other areas.

“I just feel that there are some on this panel that are being obstructionist,” Broomell declared. “You’re not listening to the public.”

Moore shot back, “I have been a part of this process,” and told Broomell: “You’re trying to make this a very simple issue, and it is not.” Furthermore, Moore said, “We can’t ignore” the opposition of medical professionals and, “If we don’t do this right, we will end up in court and lose.”

Hodge said, “I take great offense to being accused of being an obstructionist on this issue.” He said the county already “spends way too much on lawsuits” and “bad laws will get us in trouble.”

Broomell tried to press county attorney Norman Wilson to predict whether the county would prevail in litigation if the ordinance were enacted and applied to a proposed clinic that had already begun, but not completed, its project. Wilson said he couldn’t predict a court’s decision and there were multiple factors that would be considered in such a case: “Do I think it would be a cakewalk for the county? No,” he said.

Commissioner James Mullin (R-1) sat out most of the brawl but eventually observed that there had been “oodles of public comment” on the issue and going ahead with the public hearing was fine with him: “Let’s hear what everyone has to say.”

Commissioner Michael Dunn (R-3) didn’t say a word during the debate.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 Responses to Paging Dr. Broomell: Cecil County Commissioners Differ on Diagnosis of Drug Clinics, Law, Litigation

  1. Ron Lobos on January 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    It’s good to know that Commissioner Dunn has his handle on this situation. I hope that ring doesn’t fall out of his nose, otherwise, Broomell won’t know where to hold him as she shows him how to vote in her favor. As for Mullin, he needs to produce some intestinal fortitude and learn how to put Broomell in her place.

    • 1Citizen on January 26, 2012 at 9:21 am


      We have a Commissioner who contributes nothing to policy debates, doesn’t do his homework, doesn’t engage with public or press, puts in absolute minimum hours per week.

      Enough. He should be booed whenever he makes an appearance, and a petition calling for his resignation should be circulated at every county meeting. He’s an embarrassment to our county and it’s time we retaliate.

      Even if Mullin loses, he’ll be in office the rest of the year. Time to drive Dunn out now. If he doesn’t succeed it will at least weaken the other two Amigos and the Smipkin machine.

      • tina on January 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

        Now if dunn doesn’t have his part time commissioner job how will he pay his wage attachment?

  2. Alexis on January 4, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Queen Broomella knows better than all others. So what if Dr. Lewis, MD and attorney, opposes her plan. So what if the Planning Commission objects to her plan. So what if other commissioners have researched the issue and oppose her plan. Other commissioners are “obstructionist” if they oppose her plan. “You haven’t listened to the public” she cries in an attempt to demonize Hodge and Moore. She recruits neighbors of the proposed Rose’s Diner clinic to loudly recite her biased version of the facts while scoring political points and harming her “political enemies”. I urge Queen Broomella to research “ex post facto”. Better yet, assign ths task to Broomette Dunn who seems to have lots of time on his hands.

  3. someonewhocares on January 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I am glad the amendment was passed last nite. enough of the clinics. if we let Moore and Hodge spend more time on this it will become another animal control ordinance. 3 years later and still nothing to show. at least something is getting done.

    • Alexis on January 5, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Dear someonewhocares,
      The “something” that is getting done is an ordinance that does not define the “clinics” being controlled. Does the term include dialysis “clinics”, Patient First type “clinics”, physical therapy “clinics”? This was passed without due diligence so that Queen Broomella could score political points. Forget Mullin and Dunn, who seem terrified of her and The SMIPKIN. Listen to the tapes of the meetings on the county website.You will see that Broomell is the one who “misrepresents the truth”.

      • Jane on January 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm

        This is already going to Federal Court. What a shame Cecil county will have to bear the burden of discriminatory decisions.

        • Alexis on January 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

          Queen Broomella does not care. She is all about tricking the voters in the upcoming election. If court cases are not decided before the primary, and they probably won’t be, she will have the support of the duped anti-clinic NIMBY crowds.

  4. Ron Lobos on January 5, 2012 at 9:57 am

    That last statement should be signed by “someone who cares only about themselves”. Again, the 3 Amigos disregarded the opinions of Planning Commission. I kind of wonder why we even have a Planning Commission. It is Broomell herself who is burying her head in the sand. This is just one more reason why we need to neutralize the 3 Terrorists.

  5. elaine barclay on January 6, 2012 at 12:03 am

    As a treatment provider, I am ashamed of the backwards behavior of some of our County Commissioners.This discriminatory ordinance shows the pathetic beliefs that some people still feel towards the addict.I find it difficult to believe that our elected officials are unable to learn a few simple facts: treatment reduces crime rates, treatment reduces mortality rates, treatment reduces rates of transmission of disease. Treatment gives people the opportunity to try and live again without the weight of addiction hanging around their neck.

    • Jane on January 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      What is a shame is that only a few people get the Cecil Whig’s ear. Every post on the Cecil Whig’s website by me has been deleted. Not every resident feels that addicts in recovery are “leopards.”

Leave a Reply to Jane Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Fine Maryland Wines
Proudly made in Cecil County