ZBA green lights addiction research center


After months of putting off a vote on the project, the town Zoning Board of Appeals paved the way for a 97,000-square foot drug addiction research facility at Enterprise Park at Calverton on Thursday night, ruling that the application conforms to town zoning laws.

A group of scientists, medical professionals and developers called Calverton Addiction Research Education: New York (CARE: NY) have proposed a 34 acre-treatment center on private land owned by Jan Burman at EPCAL.

On an application that first made its way in front of the ZBA last October, the board ruled that a drug addiction research facility with an accessory treatment center is a permitted use in the Planned Industrial District at the EPCAL. The project now only needs final site plan approval from the town board approval to start. Though Vincent Messina, an attorney for the applicant, said that since the project has been deemed as conforming with zoning, it should be able to get a site plan approval.

He anticipates construction time to be a year to 18 months.

Part of the facility would include 130 beds for research participants who are seeking treatment and who voluntarily agreed to participate in the program, according to  CARE: NY’s founder and CEO, Andrew Drazan. 

“We’re very happy with this decision,” Mr. Drazan said afterward.

The patients would stay at the site for up to 120 days and would not be participating as part of a criminal sentence.

The CARE: NY project received a $1 million grant from the New York State Economic Development Council in December, even though it hasn’t been approved at that time.

Since October, there have been two ZBA hearings on the application and several adjournments.

In its decision Thursday night, the ZBA determined that the research use is a permitted use in the PIP zone, and the accessory uses, such as the beds, cafeteria and recreational uses, are in support of the primary use.

The ZBA vote was 4-1, with board member Frank Seabrook casting the sole no vote.

He explained his opinion via text message on Friday: “I understand that the laboratory is a permitted use. However I disagreed with allowing the beds for on campus housing. I do not understand how this remotely fits into the intent of a planned industrial park. But I’m just one vote out of five, and I respect my colleagues and the process.”

Dr. Rickard Terenzi, a retired Stony Brook University researcher who is involved with CARE: NY, said at a Jan. 9 ZBA hearing on the proposal that having the test subjects on site is something that’s been missing from previous addiction research.

In the past, Mr. Messina said at that meeting, scientists studying addiction would have to take people off the streets to study their addictions, and many of those subjects would drop out of the program before it was done, rendering the research useless.

Dr. Terenzi told the ZBA in January that he believes the CARE: NY site will become the “primary source of addition research.”

Scroll down to view the ZBA decision on the EPCAL drug addiction research facility.