NAUGATUCK — A proposal to build an inpatient residential detoxification facility as part of the development of Parcel C has raised some eyebrows.
The facility would be part of the nearly 35,000-square-foot building under construction at 58 Maple St. The property is owned by developers John Lombard and Rob Oris, working under the name Heritage Downtown, LLC.
Last July, the Zoning Commission approved a special permit application modification for the project. At the time, the plan called for a 34,923-square-foot, two-story building with medical offices operated by St. Mary’s Hospital, retail space and apartments.
The project has taken a turn as the developers are now planning for the entire building to be medical offices anchored by St. Mary’s Hospital with optometry services and the treatment facility as two other prospective tenants.
The shift in the plan came to light in May when a legal notice was published in the Republican-American. The notice stated The Haven of Connecticut, LLC, was planning to submit a certificate of need for a residential detoxification facility to be built on Parcel C to the state’s Office of Health Care Access.
Shortly after the legal notice was printed, residents took to Facebook to register their complaints and concerns with the plan. Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess was among those that spoke out against it.
In a post on Facebook, Hess wrote he supports the efforts to fight the opioid crisis but is strongly opposed to the treatment facility being placed on Parcel C.
“First and foremost, a treatment facility is not consistent with our vision for downtown,” Hess wrote. “Downtown Naugatuck is being designed as a green, walkable, bikeable, sustainable area featuring restaurants, retail stores, bike paths, a new train station as well as small residential units for millennials and seniors.”
Hess wrote the plan for downtown is transit-oriented development, which includes a combination of housing, commercial and retail uses.
“We need a more vibrant downtown with more foot traffic and other activities,” Hess wrote.
On Tuesday, Lombard referred to a prepared statement crafted by himself and Oris.
The statement says the facility would be a “high-end, private-pay” 40-bed inpatient facility.
“To be clear, this is not a methadone day clinic with addicts lingering around while waiting for their next treatment. No patients can leave the building until discharged,” the statement reads.
The statement says patients, who voluntarily attend the facility, aren’t allowed to leave until they are discharged, and the facility will be staffed 24/7. The statements says the facility will create 40 to 50 new jobs.
In the statement, Lombard and Oris say requirements put on the project by borough officials led to the change in the plan.
Lombard and Oris went back and forth for some time with the Zoning Commission and the Naugatuck Economic Development Board on the project. Two of the main sticking points were the size of the building and the material used for the outside of the building.
Lombard and Oris sought to build a smaller building in the first phase of the project after St. Mary’s Hospital, which was acquired by Trinity Health Care, would only commit to occupying no more than 15,000 square feet.
Borough officials held fast to their desire for the building to be larger and for brick instead of stucco to be used on the outside of the building.
In their statement, Lombard and Oris say these requirements raised construction costs and pushed rental rates out of the reach of local tenants. They say in the statement they were fortunate to find The Haven of Connecticut, which accepted their lease restrictions.
According to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website, The Haven of Connecticut was incorporated on March 5. The website lists Kirill Vesselov, whose address is listed in Florida, as the manager for The Haven of Connecticut.
Vesselov is also the owner of The Haven Detox in West Palm Beach, Fla., according to information on the Florida Department of State’s website. A message left for Vesselov at The Haven Detox wasn’t returned as of press time.
According to the company’s website, The Haven Detox offers detox services for a number of addictions, including alcohol, opiates, methamphetamine and bath salts.
Town Planner Lori Rotella said neither the company nor the developers have submitted any paperwork with the borough regarding the new plan. It’s unclear whether the changes would require approval from the borough.
The developers contend the approvals in place allow for this type of use on the property.
The Connecticut Department of Health Care Access has to approve an application for The Haven of Connecticut in order for the company to operate the facility in the state. As of Tuesday, the department hadn’t received an application, according to its website.
People can request a public hearing once the application has been filed, Hess said.
“When the new plan is submitted, it will be reviewed by legal counsel to determine the best course of action,” Hess wrote.