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Methadone Clinic Debate Headlines VT Supreme Court Hearings

The HowardCenter and South Burlington school district presented oral arguments to the justices at Vermont Law School

The Vermont Supreme Court heard oral arguments for six cases at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton Monday. Among them was the controversy between the South Burlington school district and the HowardCenter about a methadone clinic close to Frederick H Tuttle Middle School.

The school districts arguments were presented by attorney Pietro Lynn while the HowardCenter was represented by Frank Kochman.

“The district feels strongly that its arguments are both persuasive and prevailing,” Lynn said.

“They have no evidence what so ever they have only their fears and their apprehensions,” Kochman said.

The school district says the Vermont Environmental Division should have considered traffic and safety concerns before issuing a permit for the clinic to renovate the facility.

“There have been some incidents around the school. Whether those are directly related to methadone clinic is very hard to ascertain,” Lynn said.

The HowardCenter says those issues shouldn't be a factor.

“The question of safety doesn't come up anymore than it comes up if a cardiologist is handing out sedated medication,” Kochman said.

The clinic has the capacity to serve up to 800 patients a day but currently only gets about 250.

Parents of students at the middle school are virtually split on the issue.

“The more kids are aware of the kind of issues that people have the better of they are and I don't think it's going to be an issue,” Juli Goga said.

“I certainly wouldn't be unhappy for it to move if the appeal were granted,” Mary Dichard said.

That’s not a decision that was made Monday but whether the clinic has a future rests in the hands of the justices.

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