Home Publisher's Note NIMBY's Double Edge
Publisher's Note
NIMBY's Double Edge
January 2007

Many years ago, Don Mullaney, the founder of one of South Florida's most successful treatment enterprises, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, BHOPB, bought a then rather run down residential property in the tiny seaside village of Palm Beach Shores, eventually planning to make the units part of his Florida Model operation. Some homeowners in the village, which consists of a collection of beach front condos and hotels as well as just a few city blocks of old Florida style homes, initially planned to block Mullaney's plans, but then relented and have since developed quite cordial relations with BHOPB, which they view as a high-quality operation.

Eventually, Mullaney's property was allowed to operate as a treatment facility, but a NIMBY ordinance has since been passed in the village denoting Mullaney's property as the only treatment operator to be allowed within city limits, because of the village's tiny size.

Needless to say, that NIMBY ordinance has very much worked in Mullaney's favor, turning his seaside property, which is undergoing extensive renovation, into solid treatment gold. Mullaney is, of course, now thinking high-end for the property. It is safe to say that getting zoning for a treatment operation directly across from the beach would now be nigh impossible in South Florida. Mullaney's experience in Palm Beach Shores illustrates the double-edged nature of the NIMBY problem, especially in the case of forprofit operators that have solid licensing, zoning and community acceptance. NIMBY, because it works to inhibit capacity expansion in response to increased demand, is more and more boosting the value of existing treatment operations and is therefore a boon, of sorts, for treatment center owners, especially if they are on the sell side. The other edge of the NIMBY sword, however, is exemplified by the Caron Foundation's recent experience trying to open a much needed adolescent center near Atlanta, which was nixed by a vote of officials. Caron CEO Doug Tieman, in numerous conversations, has expressed enormous disappointment and frustration over the decision, and his experience begs a critical question for the treatment industry: if the renowned Caron Foundation can't round up the necessary approvals to open a new treatment center, who can?

With SAMHSA predicting a need to double treatment capacity to meet demand, there can be no doubt that NIMBY represents a serious threat to our industry's ability to carry out its mission.

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