A controversial drug treatment facility in Lackawanna County is being told to shut down its operation.
The Carbondale zoning board officer posted a cease-and-desist letter on the door of the Just Believe Recovery Center in Carbondale Monday morning.
The zoning board believes the treatment center should not have been allowed to open its doors because they are still appealing a decision handed down by a judge in Lackawanna County.
“I had no idea,” treatment center founder Cynthia Bellino said as she saw the bright pink letter posted on a door of her facility.
Bellino then immediately got on the phone with her lawyer.
For the last several weeks, the former Marian Community Hospital has been operating as a drug treatment center but the Carbondale zoning board solicitor believes that is improper.
Solicitor Joseph McGraw explains what the cease-and-desist letter means.
“That is an issue ordered by the city for them to stop the operations that they’re currently conducting in relation to their drug treatment facility,” McGraw said.
“They always say I think I’m above the law. I’m not above the law. The law states they can’t do this and here we go again,” Bellino said.
The center has been the source of controversy since it was just an idea.
The Carbondale zoning board initially denied an application for its existence.
A judge in Lackawanna County later granted an appeal but the zoning board itself is now appealing to Commonwealth Court.
As a result of that latest appeal, the zoning board solicitor believes the facility should not have been allowed to open.
Bellino says it is really nothing but harassment.
“I’ve been very, very generous and patient and tolerant with this whole appeal thing and if they keep going this route I will have no other avenue to take except to file suit against all of them,” Bellino said.
Bellino says her detox unit of 16 beds is already full and she has no plans to close her doors.
“They are subject to a fine of up to $500 per occurrence for a violation of the cease-and-desist order. Each day could be an additional consecutive occurrence,” McGraw said.
This is all playing out as Cynthia Bellino is asking the zoning board for permission to return some “emergency services” to the former Marian Community Hospital.
She is expecting to go before both the planning commission and zoning board this week with her idea.