Human Services to Find New Home

DERBY - The Derby Planning Commission gave Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS) the green light to build a new facility on the Crawford Road. Currently NKHS has three locations in the Newport area: one on Dutchess Street in Newport, one on the Lake Road, and the other on Citizens Road in Derby.The move was triggered in part by plans for the Lake Road location to be developed into a new biotech industrial and research site. The new facility, with an estimated construction cost of about $6-million, will allow for all the services to be located under one roof, will provide greater efficiency, and will save time and resources. It will be similar in design the St. Johnsbury Human Services offices.NKHS is a private, non-profit organization that has historically been tax exempt. However, NKHS makes payments in lieu of taxes, which it has always done in Newport, and now will do in Derby, explained Eric Grimes of NKHS.The organization will also install a new water and sewer line and add a fire hydrant.NKHS officials and engineers presented the project to the Derby Planning Commission Monday evening. Planners said they were impressed by the comprehensive plan by the applicant. After the meeting, planners held a deliberative session and decided to approve the plan.The applicant said they were preparing to file with Act 250 but wanted to make sure they had approval from the local government first. NKHS will also need to seek other state certificates of approval.All local permitting is now complete.The facility will be built in an area zoned commercial. The new building will be 37,287 square feet. The parking lot will include 133 parking places. According to the developers, the storm water plans exceed state requirements.The new building will be home to about 200 employees and serve on average of 1,800 to 2,000 children and adult clients. Services include substance abuse counseling and services for chronic mental illness, developmental disabilities, and other mental health and medical psychiatric needs.