An opioid treatment facility off West Broadway Avenue secured the blessing of the Maryville Board of Zoning Appeals in its quest to open by early 2021.
The Talbott Legacy Center’s request to be zoned “other medical” in a business and transportation district was unanimously approved Monday.
Plans to set up shop at the Wiley Boring Center have been incubating in President and CEO Zac Talbott’s mind for years. Now they are nearly a reality.
Zoning approval was the final hoop the center had to jump through before its principals could roll up their sleeves and bid out the construction job. That’s slated to happen soon, Talbott said. He only just received updated architectural designs.
The center might open by the first quarter of 2021 at the latest and December 2020 at the earliest, Talbott said.
“This year, there’s been a 20% increase in opioid overdoses compared to the same time frame in just the last year,” Talbott said, citing research from the Metro Drug Coalition of Knoxville.
He said that fact puts pressure on him to open sooner rather than later. “We think the COVID-19 pandemic is the only public health crisis when the reality is that the opioid crisis is worsening.”
Knowing that data made Monday’s approval “all the more celebratory,” Talbott said.
He had even more reason to celebrate June 24 when the state approved the center’s certificate of need. The $532,169 project couldn’t have come to fruition without that approval.
Talbott is a Maryville native and said for the years he worked at a treatment center in Chatsworth, Georgia, people asked him why he didn’t start a program in his own backyard.
Since he’s started a journey to do just that, he’s also had to tackle public input. Most of it has been positive.
Notes for the zoning approval included glowing letters of support from County Mayor Ed Mitchell, Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor, Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher as well as a handful of church leaders.
But Talbott said he’s ready to take “fire,” too.
The Wiley Boring Center’s front building houses Sunrise Child Care Center. Talbott said he’s been in touch with the director of the business and hopes to hear back from her soon.
Some on social media have voiced concerns about the negative effect an opioid treatment center could have on the neighborhood, emphasizing a potential danger to children.
But Talbott refutes that, explaining the treatment center is not going to make the neighborhood more threatening, but more welcoming. “We are Maryvillians. We are not outsiders.”
Notes show there are hopes the center will serve about 240 patients in its first year of operation.