CRANFORD PLANNING BOARD CONSIDERS PROPOSED COUNSELING CENTER FOR RECOVERING ADDICTS

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Cranford ChronicleCranford Chronicle
By Christy Potter
CRANFORDThe proposal currently before the planning board to open an outpatient counseling center at 27 N. Ave. East is still being discussed, and township officials say the applicant has indicated he will be asking for an adjournment at the Oct. 3 meeting.
The applicant seeks to open a counseling center for people recovering from alcohol and chemical addiction. The building is owned by Paul G. Argen, owner of MDTV Realty, and the lease would be to a subsidiary of Sunrise Detox, which operates such facilities in New Jersey, New York and Florida.
Township Zoning Officer Robert Hudak said it is a permitted use for the site, and that the applicant is proposing to use the existing building, with interior renovations, so the footprint will not change. The building has been empty for several years. The applicant is seeking a parking waiver, Hudak said.
During the last planning board meeting, board members questioned the nature of the counseling center and what it would mean for Cranford. Executive Director Warren Connelly said patients will have already been through detoxification and would be at the Cranford facility for counseling in preparation for moving back into the community, according to Hudak.
According to the application, the center would provide education as well as individual and group counseling sessions. It would be staffed by a medical director, licensed social worker and certified addiction counselors.
Patients are screened and assessed for stable mental health, and the program is entirely voluntary. The application specifies that people come to the facility because they are concerned about their well-being and their relationships with friends and family. It also says that patients possess “self-motivation and a willingness to change.”
Patients not accepted include anyone with any type of psychiatric diagnosis and those forced to come against their will.
The application says that Sunrise is well-established and has a good reputation in Florida and New Jersey and offers referral sources. All of its facilities are state-licensed.
During the last planning board meeting, members asked the applicant for more specific information, including an architectural plan for the building. Hudak said it’s his understanding that the applicant will seek an adjournment at the Oct. 3 meeting in order to have more time to comply with those requests.