A proposal for a drug treatment facility in Haddonfield, New Jersey, has residents up in arms, but developers say they are confident their plan will be approved, and will move forward.
Right now, Recovery Centers of America is more of a concept than a reality — the company is in the process of developing several drug treatment facilities, but doesn’t own any brick-and-mortar clinics yet. One of the sites where RCA wants to open up shop is the 19-acre Bancroft Neurohealth campus in Haddonfield.Residents have expressed opposition on social media and in town hall meetings, especially because of the proposed facility’s proximity to Haddonfield Memorial High School.”A lot of people in a tightly congested residential neighborhood are extremely disturbed by a rehab center put right down there,” said Brian Kelly, a community activist and runs a Facebook group called Haddonfield United. “They are worried about people coming in out of town, setting up shop outside, selling drugs to the people in the rehab center.” Kelly said some of the fears are fueled by misconceptions about the disease of addiction. “Alcohol and drug rehab centers provide critical services and the people attending them are our neighbors, friends and family.” But Kelly doesn’t think the Bancroft campus is the right place to offer those services, adding that the land is not zoned for a medical facility. “As a built out residential community there’s no institutional zoning in the town. This was done to protect the town from any kind of institutional building. Add a high school and elementary school next to the property, I don’t feel this is the proper place for RCA to build.”Kelly said residents would prefer the land be used for sports fields, but stay mostly open once Bancroft moves its facility to Mt. Laurel.Despite the resistance of residents, RCA founder and CEO Brian O’Neill said there’s a great need for drug treatment in that community.”What we’re trying to do is meet our patients where they live, we believe that this location is extraordinary to treat the members of the Haddonfield, Cherry Hill, and Washington Township community,” O’Neill said, adding that drug arrest records can testify to the need for treatment.O’Neill envisions a high-end boutique facility with single rooms reminiscent of a hotel — a facility that reflects the high-end tastes of an affluent community.”We tailor our approach to the demographic of the town and approach that community in the manner they are accustomed to,” he explained. He also envisions a facility that offers every aspect of drug treatment, from inpatient to outpatient to group meetings.High school student Tyler Rodriguez attended a recent town meeting regarding the planned facility.”In our community, from what I have noticed, I believe that the drug problem is very evident. It affects so many families around our area,” he said. While many believe Haddonfield to be a bit of a protected “bubble,” he said, drug problems are present. Still, he said, the location is not ideal.O’Neill is optimistic that RCA’s application for zoning variances will be granted, and that differences of opinion with residents can and will be worked out.