Somerset Council looking at fining non-certified recovery centers

May 14—Somerset City Council held the first reading Monday night of an ordinance that would allow the city to hold accountable addiction recovery houses and facilities that were not properly certified by the state.

City Attorney John Adams said that the ordinance would follow state legislation already passed which addresses the "lack of regulations that created an atmosphere of predatory operators that take advantage of persons in need of recovery."

The ordinance would require such centers to comply with the state's minimum certification standards, as well as comply with city inspections and regulations, such as building codes, fire codes and business licenses.

Adams said the ordinance would also allow for the appointment of a recovery residence compliance officer for the city, and would enforce fines for recovery centers that are out of compliance.

That led Council member Robin Daughetee to ask why it set up fines for centers without a valid license, but doesn't say they would be required to close.

"If they don't have a license, they shouldn't be operating," Daughetee said.

Adams responded that closure of such facilities is handled under state law.

"The way I understand it is, we can investigate, come up with findings ... but ultimately the certification is by the state. To answer your question, I think they would be closed under statute," Adams said.

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck added, "These fines are very punitive. If they didn't get their act cleaned up pretty well, they'd have to close."

The second reading of the ordinance will be held at a later date — June at the earliest — and Adams said that there will be an informational meeting for those "practicing in the industry" closer to time for the ordinance's passage.

Also at Monday's meeting:

* Council heard the first reading of an annexation request for 100 Family Fun Drive, otherwise known as the mini golf business Somerset Falls.

* Council approved a resolution adopting a contract with the state that determines how the city can use it's portion of gas sales tax revenues collected through the state. Somerset will receive $260,335.69.

* Council Member Brian Dalton noted that restaurant Urban Stillhouse opened this weekend. The restaurant is located in the former Goldenberg Furniture building on Main Street, fronting the Fountain Square.

* Both Council Member Amanda "Bean" Bullock and Mayor Keck reminded the public that the next regularly scheduled city council meeting would have fallen on Memorial Day, and as such, that meeting has been cancelled.