RCA plans 317-bed rehab facility for Gloucester Twp.
GLOUCESTER TWP. - Township residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on a proposed 317-bed drug and alcohol rehab facility at a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday night.
Recovery Centers of America, a startup headed by real estate developer Brian O’Neill, is applying for a use variance for the site at 1840 Peter Cheeseman Road, where it plans to operate a sprawling facility. RCA, doing business in Gloucester Township as 1840 P. Cheeseman Road LLC, won prior zoning approval for 37 inpatient beds, according to an attorney representing the firm.
RCA in January reached a settlement with the borough of Haddonfield over a controversial proposal for a rehab facility on a parcel adjacent to Haddonfield Memorial High School and in close proximity to elementary schools and residential neighborhoods.
That settlement allowed the borough to purchase much of the 19-acre site and allowed RCA to develop about 8 acres for age-targeted townhouses.
O’Neill and RCA had also been pursuing a 14-acre site off Route 38 in Mount Laurel, though the developer on Thursday reiterated his earlier assertion that his firm was no longer pursuing a facility there.
“We are not moving forward in Mount Laurel,” he told the Courier-Post. When told the question was still on a March 2 zoning board meeting agenda, he responded, “I’ll make sure it’s taken off the agenda.”
Gloucester Township, however, is a different matter.
“We are 100 percent moving forward with this facility,” O’Neill said Thursday, adding the meeting Wednesday night is over an “interpretation question” about how many beds would be permitted at the 27.27-acre site, a former Diocese of Camden retreat and spiritual center.
According to a legal notice, RCA will seek a use variance for 317 inpatient beds and 16 supervisor beds, to be developed in two phases.
The first phase would include renovating and expanding the site’s main building to include 125 inpatient beds, clinical and therapy rooms, offices, a cybercafé, a gym, meeting rooms and kitchen and dining facilities.
The second phase would include four buildings with a total of 192 inpatient beds, 16 supervisor beds and other amenities and meeting rooms. This would require the use variance, and according to the legal notice, RCA “disagrees with the planning director’s decision” and believes the planned use is permitted under current zoning regulations.
O’Neill, RCA's CEO and founder, told the Courier-Post in December he is committed to “helping 1 million Americans get clean and sober” by opening a series of high-end drug and alcohol rehab centers on the East Coast — including three in South Jersey.
RCA, which has not opened any rehabilitation facilities yet, secured $231.5 million in financing from Deerfield Management Co., a New York-based health care investment firm in December. The company plans additional locations in Earleville, Waldorf and Upper Marlboro, Maryland; Danvers, Massachusetts; and Paoli, Pennsylvania.
RCA is also in the process of acquiring Lighthouse Recovery, an inpatient rehab center in Mays Landing, and plans to close on that acquisition March 1. RCA is “in discussions with a number of operators” to acquire more existing facilities as well, O’Neill has said.
“New Jersey’s communities are some of the hardest hit (by the heroin and opiate addiction) epidemic in the world,” he said in December. “It also has a large population, and it’s close to our headquarters outside Philadelphia.”
Phaedra Trethan: (856) 486-2417; email@example.com
If you go
A public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Gloucester Township municipal building, 1261 Chews Landing Road, Blackwood.