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Local News

October 15, 2012

Clinic's overnight hours raise questions

SALEM — The city’s building inspector has ordered a 24-hour mental health clinic to close at night, saying it is violating city zoning laws by staying open around the clock.

The clinic, called the Community Crisis Stabilization Program, is located at 41 Mason St. It provides emergency psychiatric services for adults 18 and over, including six beds for overnight stays that average three to five days.

Building Inspector Tom St. Pierre issued a cease-and-desist order on Aug. 1 instructing the clinic to stop operating overnight between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.

In the order, St. Pierre said a 2003 ruling by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals restricted the hours of operation of businesses in the building to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Northeast Behavioral Health, which runs the clinic, has appealed St. Pierre’s order, saying it is exempt from the zoning regulation due to its status as a nonprofit educational company.

The Zoning Board of Appeals has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at 120 Washington St.

The clinic has remained open around-the-clock pending the outcome of the appeal. Marshall Handly, a lawyer representing Northeast Behavioral Health, said the two sides are trying to work out a solution.

“We’re not at odds with the city,” Handly said. “We’re not going at each other. I think we’re trying to come to an understanding.”

Northeast Behavioral Health is a private, nonprofit human services agency with several locations throughout the North Shore, Cape Ann and Merrimack Valley. The company was formed in 2010 by the merger of CAB Health and Recovery Services and Health & Education Services. It is part of Northeast Health System, the parent company of Beverly Hospital.

St. Pierre said the complaint against the clinic’s hours was filed by the White family, which owns a house at 37 Mason St. next to the clinic, which operates out of a brick building that also has several other businesses.

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