An organization that operates residential treatment facilities for adolescents struggling with mental health, eating disorders and substance abuse is proposing to expand its services into Loudoun County, but some residents are opposed to the idea, concerned by the potential impact to the community and what they say are issues of safety.
Newport Academy, a for-profit therapy program for adolescents, is proposing the expansion that is contingent upon the sale of three homes in south of Leesburg.
Residents in the Gleedsville told the Times-Mirror they are not opposed to offering mental health services, but will challenge the county’s determination that would allow Newport to operate as a “congregate housing facility.”
The sale of the homes is scheduled to be finalized next month, according to information provided to the Times-Mirror. The group opposed to the proposal, which is made up of 35 families, said it raised nearly $14,000 in its first three days to retain an attorney and now has more than $18,000 as of Dec. 26.
Joe Procopio, chief executive officer of Newport Academy, said in an email to the Times-Mirror that Newport has provided “much needed, high quality teen mental health services in Virginia since March of 2020” and the staff is pleased to bring young adult mental health treatment to the Leesburg community soon.
“We believe every person deserves a chance to heal in a supportive and loving environment, and we are committed to the safety of our clients and communities,” Procopio said.
“We have received support from many community members and leaders across Loudoun County who understand the need for quality mental health treatment in this region, particularly in the midst of a national mental health crisis, and we are working diligently with our neighbors to proactively mitigate any of their individual concerns,” he said. “We look forward to being a contributing member of this great community and are committed to raising awareness and working to eliminate the stigma of mental health issues.”
Residents said they received notice that Newport Academy would be purchasing the three properties to operate a for-profit treatment facility earlier this month. Permitting the proposal, “would be precedent setting across Loudoun,” the neighbors said.
If the sale is approved, Newport Academy would operate out of three current single-family detached homes on Gleedsville Road, which is south of Leesburg, according to a Sept. 22 zoning determination letter to the Loudoun County Department Planning & Zoning.
Newport Academy has been engaged with purchasing the properties, the letter states.
The program would serve in each facility a group of single-sex patients, no more than eight adolescents in each facility, with one or more nonresident staff members, the letter states.
Additionally, the letter states that residences would be staffed 24 hours a day. Patients would not have access to the other properties and typically stay between 30 to 90 days.
Newport Academy said it will not seek to operate drug rehabilitation facilities or provide detoxification services or other substance abuse treatment. Applicants using illicit substances or who needs treatment for the same will not be admitted.
Patients who are determined to be using alcohol or other drugs will be discharged, the letter states
Further, the letter states that the program provides treatment to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 who are experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma and other mental health issues in a safe, supportive, home-like setting. Newport Academy has facilities across the country including, in parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
A zoning permit is required to operate as a “congregate housing facility,” according to a Nov. 29 response letter from Loudoun County’s Department of Planning and Zoning.
Newport Academy has not been granted a zoning permit as of Dec. 20.