Opening for opioid clinic in Lynnwood delayed as protests against it continue

Outraged residents continue to push back the opening of a proposed opioid treatment center in Lynnwood.

The clinic, located just off 24th Avenue, was set to open on Jan. 23, but has since been delayed to Monday, Jan. 30.

Mayor Christine Frizzell sent a letter to the Department of Health, lawmakers and Governor Jay Inslee notifying them of the ongoing issues, and what she says is a lack of transparency.

She says $300,000 have been invested in the proposed clinic with the promise of helping hundreds of people who have been waiting for treatment in Snohomish County.

"We need an opioid treatment facility, we need drug rehabilitation centers but not right next to childcare," Frizzell said.

Acadia Healthcare previously told FOX 13 they have about 100 patients living within five miles of what could be an opioid treatment center.

Mayor Frizzell says she agrees the need is there in Snohomish County, but like many, she only found out about the clinic through a local newspaper on Dec. 13. 

"I kind of went ballistic," Frizzell said.

So, she started digging.

She says Acadia reached out to their planning and zoning department in March 2022 – inquiring about the location, but they didn't find anything prohibiting them.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Families protest proposed opioid treatment center location in Lynnwood

They filed for permits in June, and had to adhere to the Department of Health's requirements; notifying both city and county councils and outreach in the community.

She says in October, Acadia filed a 14-page application with only two pages filled out to the Department of Health. 

"That's what was emailed to our city council and county council according to the RCW [Revised Code of Washington] they don’t have to notify the city," Frizzell said.

She says planning and zoning did everything right.

"They could’ve overreached and done something different though," Frizzell said. "The authority lies with the department of health – the Washington department of health got the application, and they moved it forward into a public hearing that was between Christmas and New Years."

Residents like Rachel Zhang, who lives a minute down the road on 24th Ave, are outraged.

"I was like are you kidding me?!" Zhang said. "Wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels, it felt like a game they're playing."

"I lay all of this responsibility on those two bodies, Acadia and the Department of Health," Frizzel said. "How can DOH have gotten an application that barely had any information on it and schedule a public hearing?"

The mayor claims an Acadia representative directly lied to her about their outreach to Sgt. Carter with Lynnwood Police.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 'We're being rammed down our throats:' City, neighbors frustrated with new opioid treatment center in Lynnwood

"'She says I reached out to him, and he and I talked about the process and talked about what outcomes could be and who could benefit from a facility like this,'" Frizzel said. "I asked, ‘Did you really talk with Sgt carter?’ She says ‘Oh yes, we had a very good conversation’ and I said, ‘I don’t believe you because Sgt. Carter is a woman’."

Her goal in writing to the DOH, is changing the RCW to allow cities to have a say in the process and to hopefully relocate the clinic.

"I think that if Acadia had done their homework, like they should've done, they would have found that’s not a great spot to site an opioid treatment facility. I think there are other places in Lynnwood, in South Snohomish County that are much better suited," Frizzel said.

Residents are having difficult conversations, moving and selling their homes. Others, like Zhang, are switching dentists, trying to find other areas to shop and take their child to daycare to avoid the clinic.

"I'm grateful the Lynnwood City is on our side," Zhang said. "I'm still very much worried and who knows if this is just going to be back and forth. Maybe Acadia will do something that will check all the boxes."

She says getting people the help they need is crucial, but her fear and concerns are the children in the area.

"No matter how good the intent is, there are unintended consequences," Frizzell said.

Others like Laura Warnock and Anthony Verdusco have mixed emotions.

"I think that's amazing they're doing that, it's nice that there's going to be help," Warnock said.

She has a friend who is recovering from addiction and needs a clinic like this.

"Probably not right here, but it like in general, it could be good," Verdusco said.

Safe Lynnwood says their concern is also about access to transportation, and the lack of parking as treatment facilities tend to be busy.

"We want to make it clear that our coalition supports treatment centers, just not at the expense of the safety of our children and community. Our concern is the potential impact on the safety of the kids who will be playing baseball less than 200 feet away, as well as the potential increase in crime, homelessness, and traffic congestion in an area without adequate parking and local infrastructure support." 

"It's just not the right location," Zhang said.

We reached out to Acadia, who sent us this statement saying in part:

"We have dutifully followed the process to build this location on a parcel that was zoned for this use. We are working with all necessary agencies for their approvals. We understand the stigma associated with the facility. We look forward to working with the community and residents to aid in their understanding of how this facility will operate and alleviate their concerns."

However, as of publishing, the DOH has yet to make a decision on their licensing, FOX 13 reached out and are waiting to hear back.

Safe Lynnwood will be protesting Sunday at 1:00 p.m. outside the proposed site on 2322 196th St SW #200, and marching to the Whole Foods off 196th.