Calvert County commissioners may double the size of a Chesapeake Beach substance abuse treatment center, where crowding has forced some clients into hallways for counseling.

"The group rooms aren't big enough for the size of the groups, the offices are too small and sometimes we've got people sitting in hallways," said Brian Lynch, program director at Calvert Substance Abuse Services. "We are desperately trying to find space."

The center, in the Captain's Quarters office and retail complex in Chesapeake Beach, has 840 square feet that is divided into two small offices and two small group therapy rooms. To accommodate its clients, the center needs about 1,500 square feet of space, said Douglas Weems, the county's director of core services.

Weems said the Chesapeake Beach center is stretched to its limit because of intense growth and development in Calvert during the past several years. "There are a number of people moving into the northern part of the county," Weems said. "It's rapidly growing."

The center offers individual, group and family therapy for substance abuse, as well as assessments, education and referrals. Most of the clients are referred to the center through the court system, required to get counseling as a condition of parole. A handful come to the center voluntarily, Lynch said. Fees from the state, county and clients help pay the costs, he said.

The caseload at the Chesapeake Beach facility increased from 84 clients in 1997 to about 100 clients currently, Lynch said. The center is staffed by one part-time and two full-time therapists. Weems said the Chesapeake Beach site is among the fastest growing of the county's four substance abuse treatment facilities.

Lynch and Weems asked the county commissioners to expand the center by renting and slightly renovating an adjoining storefront. "The county commissioners and mayors of North Beach and Chesapeake Beach have always been very supportive of the center and we're hoping they will help us," Lynch said.

The county now pays 75 percent of the center's $11,340 annual lease, with the town of Chesapeake Beach paying the remaining 25 percent. The expansion would increase the lease to $22,680. Chesapeake Beach Mayor Gerald Donovan has committed to pay 25 percent of that cost, pending approval from his Town Council.

County commissioners postponed action on the request until they meet again on Tuesday.