Drug Addict Facility Triples Size of Earleville Site; Cecil County Planning Panel Hears Zoning Change; Ambo Issues Ignored

November 17, 2014

A Pennsylvania-based real estate developer who is seeking to create a “national” drug addict treatment hospital has boosted initial proposals that the facility would house 50 patients to a vastly expanded plan to build additional facilities on the rural Earleville site to house 150 in-patient drug addicted residents, according to documents filed with the Cecil County Planning Commission.

The planning panel is scheduled to hear the request for a “special exception” for a “hospital” under county zoning law at its meeting tonight (11/17/14) at 7 p.m. at the county administration building in Elkton. If a quorum of the panel is not present, the hearing and the panel’s recommendations on the application will be delayed until Wednesday, 11/19/14. Regardless of the planning panel’s decision, the Board of Appeals will review the matter and render its own binding decision at a hearing scheduled for next Tuesday (11/25/14.) However, a Board of Appeals decision may be appealed to the county’s Circuit Court.

The initial proposal to convert the Bracebridge Hall former conference center, on Grove Neck Road about five miles west of the town of Cecilton, was unveiled at a meeting of the county’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council on 9/26/14. [ SEE Cecil Times Report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/09/two-drug-rehab-centers-proposed-for-same-rural-earleville-road-cecil-county-backs-treatment-options/ ]

The unveiling of the proposal caught the public, local residents, and members of the County Council by surprise, but County Executive Tari Moore voiced support for an in-patient facility and said her staff had been in private discussions with the proposed operators for some time before the revelation of the plan, with minimal public details disclosed at the meeting. Cecil Times obtained additional information independently for our report at that time.

However, at that time representatives of the developer said that the plan was limited to 50 in-patients to be housed in a re-purposed eight-bedroom ‘manor house’ on the property and that there were no plans to construct other facilities or utilize additional housing allocations and a proposed small on-site sewage plant previously approved for the site to add extra residential treatment capacity.

But those promises dissolved in just a few weeks, in a formal application filed 10/16/14 with the planning board. That document seeks a “special exception” to create a “hospital” in the SAR (Southern Agricultural) zone and asserts that approval of that zoning designation would allow the developer to construct facilities to house 150 drug treatment patients.

The property includes 530 acres, of which about 276 acres are designated as “Critical Area” land adjacent to tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay in which development is severely limited. The “initial” phase of the project will be the original 50-bed hospital facility in the “manor house” but there will now be further “phases” to create additional 100-bed, in-patient treatment facilities on the site. The planning documents state the developers plan “new construction” on the site to create such extra capacity.

The developers, represented by the Baltimore law firm of Miles and Stockbridge, (which has also represented the Cecil County government on various issues) claim that the drug treatment hospital will “improve the quality and availability of residential treatment for substance abuse in Cecil County.”

However, representatives of the developer conceded in their initial discussions that an in-patient treatment stay could cost as much as $30,000—a figure far beyond the financial reach of most Cecil County residents. Indeed, promotional materials by the group seeking to develop the facility—Recovery Centers of America—emphasized luxurious accommodations and transport of patients from distant locations via private “black cars” to the treatment center location.

While patients might be transported from distant locations via private “black cars,” the planning board application is silent on the potential strain such a facility might place on the local Earleville-area ambulance and emergency medical services. The area is served by the Hack’s Point and Cecilton volunteer fire companies “basic life support” (BLS) ambulance services, while there is a county government-operated paramedic (Advanced Life Support/ALS) station some 15 miles away in Chesapeake City.

South-of-the-Canal ambulance services have had problems for years, with slow response times due to the large geographic area served and a limited population base from which to draw volunteer emergency responders. The Hacks Point and Cecilton volunteer companies asked the county two years ago for a modest financial grant to help them hire paid-drivers on a part-time basis but the county declined to assist the south county services.

Now those already over-worked local volunteer services would be asked to serve up to 150 medically-needy patients at the Grove Neck Road facility in case they needed transport to full-fledged area hospitals for emergency medical services. The planning board application did not address the potential impact the drug facility could have on area ambulance services and demands for medical transport.

And local emergency responders and area town mayors were not consulted in advance by county officials before the Earleville drug facility was announced with much fanfare by the county administration at the drug and alcohol council meeting.

“This is just another case of bait and switch,” said County Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4). She noted that the tripling in size of the proposed facility was done without substantive advance notice to local south county officials and area residents. “The community has a right to know what is going on and how it will affect them,” she said. And since the developer is a for-profit entity, “there needs to be appropriate oversight.”

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7 Responses to Drug Addict Facility Triples Size of Earleville Site; Cecil County Planning Panel Hears Zoning Change; Ambo Issues Ignored

  1. Ashley on November 19, 2014 at 6:48 am

    How and what can the community do to fight this? There has to be something we can do.

  2. Kelly Frost on November 19, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I am extremely concerned –horrified at the same time– regarding what appears to be methodical, deceitful behavior on the part of a few in the Cecil County government. Cecil County government should maintain the appearance of neutrality, as any county official that does not follow the law as written, could wind up being the subject of a complaint or lawsuit…

    I sit on the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council and at the September meeting – The Recovery Centers of America (RCA) representatives said they wanted to propose a Detox/Rehab facility with 30 Beds , initially ending with 50 Beds.

    But now, on the actual application [to the county Planning Commission] they put up to 150 beds?

    (See Actual Application: http://www.ccgov.org/uploads/PlanningAndZoning/Meetings/boa/2014/Spex_3703.pdf )

    So my guess would be when they were filling out the application they figured ‘Oops, did I say 50? I meant 150. Maybe no one will notice? And if I call myself a “Hospital” we’ll get tax breaks and maybe we can dose patients on an outpatient basis as well. Maybe no one will notice?

    So we don’t have to guarantee anything for the citizens of Cecil County yet the county residents can pay out for all the impact costs. And the beautiful thing is: we are ok – we disclosed the scheme of things to the County Executive and she knows our intent (we told her in “private discussions”) and she will support it. Imagine that – I’m shocked!

    On the Application – Applicant: 314 Grove Neck LLC ?? I thought the applicant was RCA [Recovery Centers of America] but NO, it is 314 Grove Neck LLC ? I wonder who holds “stock /ownership”? Is this a RED FLAG – with deliberate, pre-meditated deception?…

    Please attend the Board of Appeals Meeting next Tuesday, November 25th, on the Recovery Center of America/ 314 Grove Neck LLC proposed 50 to 150 Bed facility, if you have any questions, comments or concerns:


    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014
    ALTERNATE DATE: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2014 (Be on guard because they will probably postpone Tuesday’s meeting and go to the next day which is the day before Thanksgiving –– They don’t want you to show up and ask questions or be informed)

    County Administration Building
    The Elk Room
    200 Chesapeake Blvd., Elkton, MD 21921
    7:00 p.m. …

    • Ashley on November 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      How do we know if the meeting gets postponed?

  3. Joe C on November 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    “I am extremely concerned –horrified at the same time– regarding what appears to be methodical, deceitful behavior on the part of a few in the Cecil County government. Cecil County government should maintain the appearance of neutrality, as any county official that does not follow the law as written, could wind up being the subject of a complaint or lawsuit” –
    This type of behavior is not limited to this issue. Take for example the “hearing” on the water and sewer plan– a commercial interest was allowed to present a huge last minute change, which was not presented or available for others to review, then the treasurer for the Cecil Business Leaders for Better (Bigger) Government who sits on the Planning Commission makes a motion to accept it.

    This same commercial interest provides significant funding for CBL’s political activities to elect all five members of the incoming council, the same council that will approve these changes which will benefit the commercial interest and possibly some members of the council. See, neutrality is a lost art in Cecil County– more like a new form of “pay as you go.”

  4. Ashley on November 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I am local resident in the area and we do not want this facility in our community.

  5. Joe C on November 23, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    You need to go to the board of appeals, the meeting is this week! Go to county web site CCGov.org and see when the meeting is. Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Politics for Dummies on November 25, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    The County Meetings, Citizens Corners, et al are a joke! Yes, get your concerns on record and show up in droves but rest assured the County Executive does what the County Executive –Tari Moore– wants to do and what is in her best interest. Your opinions and concerns fall on deaf ears with the current administration as has been repeatedly evidenced– with so many bad choices you can’t pick just one.

    Good luck in getting anything changed. Next we’ll be hearing what a “good job” the new rehab is doing as they learn on-the-job, while addicts here in Cecil County continue dying in our streets with nowhere to turn because they can’t afford the over-priced, tax funded, rehab. Would be nice if people elected to office performed on the platforms they stood on to get elected but that would be asking too much in good ole Ceciltucky.

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