Vero Beach council to consider shutting out pain clinics for now

VERO BEACH – The Vero Beach City Council is considering prohibiting pain clinics from moving into the area for the next 180 days while city staff determine the best way to address the facilities in the city’s development codes.

The discussion is slated to come up at this evening’s council meeting and would require a future public hearing.

City leaders have expressed concerns about pain clinic and pain management facilities, which are prevalent south of Indian River County. Some clinics in South Florida have recently been raided by law enforcement. According to media reports, the agencies declined to comment on the raids.

Authorities have said that people travel from across the country to go to the clinics, seeking pain killers such as oxycodone.

Recently in Indian River County, authorities arrested a pair of men who traveled from Kentucky to go to a pain clinic. They made a stop in Indian River County to buy oxycodone and marijuana to tide them over on their way to South Florida, authorities said.

The City Council has expressed concerns that as counties to the south begin to tighten the regulations pertaining to such clinics, Indian River County – and Vero Beach – might become the best place for the facilities to move in.

A Grand Jury in Broward County has found that burglaries and robberies in the vicinity of the clinics increased, as had prescription drug trafficking and street level sales, identity theft and organized crime, according to backup material on the matter provided to council members.

Also, the Grand Jury said that there has been an increase in drug-related deaths due to lethal doses. In Florida in 2006, there were 2,780 lethal dose reports of prescription drugs, the Grand Jury said.

The number increased to3,317 in 2007 and 3,750 in 2008.

As for medical clinics and offices, the city could require the business to provide a written statement that the facility is not or will not be a “pain clinic” or “pain management clinic.” The city could refuse the development application if no such statement were given.

Also up for discussion at this evening’s Vero Beach City Council meeting is the potential renaming of 14th Avenue to Main Street, as requested by Main Street Vero Beach.

The council will also discuss expanding the area of the Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary that its committee oversees. That new area would include the east portion of the bridge and the entryway, along with the traffic circle.

The committee would have the authority to approve memorials and plaques in that area along with determine what uses would be allowed.

The Vero Beach City Council meeting is expected to begin at 6 p.m. and will be held in the council chambers at City Hall.

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