Rehab Plan Stalls, So Phish Front Man's Foundation Decides to Improvise | Health Care | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Rehab Plan Stalls, So Phish Front Man's Foundation Decides to Improvise


Published April 8, 2022 at 7:21 p.m.

  • Photo courtesy of The Divided Sky Foundation
Phish front man Trey Anastasio's charitable organization is tweaking plans for a proposed residential addiction treatment center in Ludlow so that it can open despite an appeal from neighbors, Anastasio's publicist told Seven Days.

Anastasio's Divided Sky Foundation purchased the 18-acre property in late 2020 with the help of more than $1 million donated by viewers of the musician's livestreamed pandemic concerts. Last summer, the foundation earned town approval to open the 40-bed treatment facility, overcoming an array of complaints from Ludlow residents.

But neighbors later appealed the ruling through Vermont's Act 250 land use permit process, and a decision is now pending.

Instead of waiting for that appeal to play out, the foundation says it has found a way to circumvent the process and open its doors — while still adhering to zoning rules. In a statement to Seven Days, Anastasio's publicist said the center plans to open under a "nonmedical programming model" that does not bill insurers but instead relies on "self-pay and scholarships."
Ditching the medical designation, according to the foundation, means the center could operate under its existing permit, which covers inns and restaurants — even while the appeal is pending.

The company slated to manage the center — Ascension Recovery Services — told Vermont health care regulators earlier this week that it was withdrawing its request for a certificate of need for the project. Ascension, based in West Virginia, manages treatment centers across the country.

A lawyer representing the neighbors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Anastasio, who is in recovery himself, has said the project will help people of all economic backgrounds overcome addiction. The statement from his publicist said his foundation will revisit the medical model after the appeal.

"But we felt it was important to start serving the community’s needs as soon as possible," the statement said.