19 Dec Jonathan Cartu Reviews: Aegis Treatment Centers Pulls Permit Request for Vandenberg
Plans for operation on Constellation Road dropped in face of strong opposition from area residents
Aegis Treatment Centers has withdrawn its application for an opioid treatment clinic in this building in Vandenberg Village near Lompoc, according to Santa Barbara County officials. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
An opioid addiction treatment center officially withdrew its application to open a medication dispensary in Vandenberg Village, according to a top Santa Barbara County planning representative.
Aegis Treatment Centers on Tuesday formally pulled the application for a conditional-use permit to open up a facility in an office building, Jeffrey Wilson, assistant director for the Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Department, told Noozhawk.
The Aegis proposal prompted strong opposition from Vandenberg Village residents, who said the office building at 3769 Constellation Road was not the right location.
The Vandenberg Village clinic would have been a smaller facility than the one operating in Santa Maria, where medication is handed out and clients undergo counseling.
“I think the community has made its voice loud and clear on this issue,” Hartmann said.
The firm claims to be the largest outpatient center in California for the treatment of heroin and opioid painkiller addiction, dispensing medications such as methadone and buprenorphine to help patients.
Aegis had planned to operate a clinic in 750 square feet of existing office space, and had submitted an application in May for a conditional-use permit from the county.
A few residents renewed their concerns during the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday in Santa Maria, saying Vandenberg Village was not the appropriate location for the operation.
Opponents had collected more than 1,500 signatures on online and in-person petitions in a few weeks.
“We all understand the need for treatments to help people overcome opioid addiction, but Aegis’s proposed location at 3769 Constellation Road would not serve the needs to its Lompoc clients as it states,” said Carolyn Mazzeo, a Vandenberg Village resident.
Residents have raised concerns about whether adequate transportation exists for clients headed to Vandenberg Village from Lompoc.
“If Aegis’s goal is to help their clients conquer addiction, their clinic should be accessibly located in the city of Lompoc, regardless of potentially higher lease costs to Aegis,” Mazzeo added.
Delays in withdrawing the application caused “growing frustration and mounting anger,” leading some to suspect residents were being told lies, Mazzeo said.
Dr. Bill Heath, who owns the dental practice next door to the proposed Vandenberg Village clinic, said he and Lompoc Unified School District leaders opposed Aegis opening up at the Constellation Road office building.
“We’d like to keep Vandenberg Village safe, free from drugs that we believe can be harmful to our youth and our children,” Heath said. “Treat Vandenberg Village as if it’s your own community, but we know that Vandenberg Village is not the place for a methadone clinic.”
While a top county official confirmed to Noozhawk on Tuesday that the application has been withdrawn, the online application status system still listed it Wednesday as being in review.
In response to the residents’ comments during the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning, Hartmann said she was unaware of the application before its submission to the county.
A top Aegis representative told her they would withdraw the application, but didn’t, according to Hartmann.
Later, Aegis blamed the delay on negotiations for exiting the lease.
“It’s my understanding that they did have the final walk-through on the building, so I expect any moment that we will, in fact, have the withdrawal from P&D,” Hartmann said, telling residents, “We’ve heard you.”
Board Chairman Steve Lavagnino remarked that patients currently use the Aegis site in Santa Maria.
“Those people are all coming to my district to be treated,” Lavagnino said. “I hope for a resolution that works for all districts and all individuals.”