Claiming Riviera Beach officials are violating federal anti-discrimination laws, a New York man is suing the city for stonewalling his plans to establish a 24-bed residential drug treatment center on Singer Island.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court this week, Richard Marshel is asking a federal judge to order city officials to give him the paperwork he needs to establish the treatment center in a former apartment complex on Blue Heron Boulevard.
Marshel, manager of a company that owns several buildings on the island, claims he has been trying to get the necessary paperwork since late last year to no avail, according to the lawsuit filed by West Palm Beach attorney Jim Green. City officials haven’t responded to letters or emails, effectively blocking Marshel’s plans, Green claims.
Under the federal Americans with Disabilities and the Fair Housing acts, the city can’t deny Marshel’s company, 368 E. 148th Street Associates, the ability to use the apartment complex to treat people who are considered disabled because of their addictions, Green said
Like leaders of other cities in Palm Beach County who became concerned about the growing number of drug treatment centers and sober homes within their borders, Riviera in 2011 enacted a one-year moratorium on the establishment of substance abuse facilities, Green said. The moratorium was discriminatory and illustrates the city’s history of illegal efforts to block treatment centers, he said in the suit.
City officials didn’t respond to an email for comment. In addition to forcing the city to hand over necessary paperwork, which Marshel needs so he can hire a treatment provider, Green is seeking an unspecified amount in damages from the city.