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Treatment Center to Grow

A company that runs an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in north Spokane has picked 10 sites where it might move into a larger building.

Two of the top three are in Spokane Valley; the third is in downtown Spokane.

American Behavioral Health Systems has room for 117 patients at its current location on East Cozza Drive and plans to relocate somewhere capable of housing about 200.

“We are turning people away all the time,” said CEO Craig Phillips.

Topping the list with 163 points is the former Good Samaritan nursing home at 12715 E. Mission that closed about two years ago.

Next is the former Tidyman’s store near Argonne and Interstate 90, with 134 points.

The Howard Johnson Hotel on Division in downtown Spokane is on the market and ranked third on the list with 128 points.

About eight acres zoned for industrial building between Montgomery and Indiana near Pines ranked fourth, with 126 points. The New Comfort Inn and Suites at Knox and Madson in Liberty Lake is up for sale and ranked fifth with 125 points, followed by the historic Symons Building at Howard and Sprague in downtown Spokane, with 122 points.

Locations scoring below 100 points include undeveloped industrial land in Spokane Valley at the end of north Tschirley Road and near the northeast corner of Barker and I-90. A lot zoned for apartments at Pines and Marietta also made the list, as did industrial land close to I-90 near Airway Heights.

In May, Spokane County commissioners deemed the project an essential public facility – a designation created by state law for entities that are often difficult to find sites for, such as correctional institutions, airports and mental hospitals.

Because of possible resistance from nearby property owners, finding a site for essential public facilities includes multiple public comment periods. The commissioners eventually will recommend three preferred locations, even though a private company will set up and run the treatment center.

“It’s a pretty harmless operation,” Phillips said, adding that he hasn’t had any significant problems relating to the existing facility. “It’s much more risky to put an apartment building in than a treatment center.” Patients stay an average of 45 days, Phillips said, and for the first 30 they aren’t allowed to leave. After that, some may leave temporarily and travel on the bus system.

Most patients are referred to the organization through state agencies, and the company receives between $40 and $90 per day from the state for their treatment.

There are about 35 similar treatment facilities across the state. Usually about 25 percent of ABHS patients come from outside the Spokane area, although the amount is closer to 50 percent right now, Phillips said.

Some come into the program through the courts if they meet certain criteria.

The list of potential sites comes from an analysis that compares properties to the list of needs for the new facility.

The analysis then assigns up to 165 points to each site. Scoring includes analysis of available land, building design, compatibility with neighbors, environmental concerns, and proximity to transportation and other municipal services. The process also aims to equally distribute essential public facilities across the county.

According to Spokane County’s Comprehensive Plan, the next step will be another analysis that will narrow the choices to three locations. The County Commission will hold a public hearing on the final three and rank them, though their recommendations are not binding.

Both analyses have public comment periods, the first of which ends Sept. 4. Once the company selects a site, it will then have to obtain building permits from the appropriate local government.