Northeast Times

Holmesburg rallies against methadone clinic

Milt Mar­telack an­nounces the be­gin­ning of the com­munity demon­stra­tion against a pro­posed meth­adone clin­ic on the 7900 block of Frank­ford Ave., Sev­er­al politi­cians, such as Bobby Hen­on, spoke at the protest, Thursday, Ju­ly 19, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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As the dead­line nears for the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment to present its find­ings of fact to the city of­fice of the pro­tho­not­ary, op­pon­ents of a pro­posed meth­adone clin­ic in Holmes­burg want the op­er­at­or to know their pas­sion re­mains high.

“We’re not go­ing away,” said Rich Frizell, pres­id­ent of the Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation.

Frizell was among dozens of people who gathered last week out­side the pro­posed site, at 7900-04 Frank­ford Ave. (at Dec­atur Street). Meth­adone is used to wean people off drugs and is usu­ally dis­pensed in a power­ful li­quid form.

The Heal­ing Way has eyed the va­cant 4,830-square-foot prop­erty — the former Last Call bar that closed in 2008 after a shoot­ing out­side the es­tab­lish­ment — since early last year.

The prop­erty is zoned C-2, which al­lows for com­mer­cial activ­ity such as a med­ic­al of­fice.

The Heal­ing Way ob­tained per­mits from the city De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions in Janu­ary 2011, and neigh­bors were un­aware of plans for the site un­til last sum­mer. An open­ing was not im­min­ent, since renov­a­tions were not com­pleted and the agency needed ap­prov­al from the state and fed­er­al gov­ern­ments.

A state law pro­hib­it­ing meth­adone clin­ics from open­ing with­in 500 feet of a school, play­ground, church, park, house or child-care cen­ter was struck down in 2007 as un­con­sti­tu­tion­al by a fed­er­al ap­peals court, which cited the Amer­ic­ans with Dis­ab­il­it­ies Act.

Build­ing own­er Den­nis Kulp, the long­time broker/own­er of the ad­ja­cent RE/MAX East­ern, in­sisted he did not know which type of med­ic­al of­fice Heal­ing Way planned to open.

Some 800 people ral­lied against the plan last Ju­ly in the Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School aud­it­or­i­um.

Last Au­gust, a hear­ing was held in front of the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment.

The ZBA took its time, wait­ing un­til March to is­sue a rul­ing re­vok­ing the per­mits. The Heal­ing Way ap­pealed to Com­mon Pleas Court.

By Aug. 6, the zon­ing board must give the reas­on for its de­cision. The Heal­ing Way has un­til Sept. 4 to file its brief with Com­mon Pleas Court.

At­tor­neys Dawn Tan­credi and Phil Mc­Fil­lin, who rep­res­ent the neigh­bors, must file their briefs by Oct. 1.

Or­al ar­gu­ments on the leg­al mer­its will take place on Nov. 5 in the City Hall courtroom of Judge Idee C. Fox.

Whichever side loses in Com­mon Pleas Court will likely ap­peal to state Com­mon­wealth Court.

Tan­credi and Mc­Fil­lin, who work for the Mat­tioni law firm, at­ten­ded the Ju­ly 19 rally, which took place on the one-year an­niversary of the first com­munity gath­er­ing to op­pose the clin­ic.

The at­tor­neys have been work­ing pro bono, but the com­munity is ask­ing res­id­ents to send checks or money or­ders for $10 to their Mar­ket Street of­fice to pay for fur­ther ex­penses.

City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on pledged the first $500 for the leg­al de­fense fund.

“This sleep­ing gi­ant is not go­ing to rest,” Hen­on said.

Hen­on’s pledge was matched by state Demo­crat­ic Reps. Kev­in Boyle and John Sabat­ina Jr. and Re­pub­lic­an Al Tauben­ber­ger, pres­id­ent of the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce and Boyle’s re-elec­tion op­pon­ent.

“You are not wanted, Heal­ing Way,” Boyle said.

“It’s not good for a neigh­bor­hood, and it ain’t good for busi­ness either,” Tauben­ber­ger said.

Oth­ers at last week’s rally in­cluded May­fair Civic As­so­ci­ation pres­id­ent Joe De­Fe­lice, rep­res­ent­at­ives of May­fair Town Watch, Ta­cony/Holmes­burg Town Watch, the Great­er Bustleton Civic League, Holme Circle Civic As­so­ci­ation and the Ta­cony Qual­ity of Life Co­ali­tion and aides to state Sen. Mike Stack and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

“We’re go­ing to chase these clowns out of here,” said May­fair Town Watch pres­id­ent Milt Mar­telack, who passed off his mega­phone to oth­er speak­ers.

Joe Nicoletti, pres­id­ent of the Ta­cony/Holmes­burg Town Watch, said the fa­cil­ity would at­tract “scum­bags” and “sleazeballs.”

Nearby busi­ness people op­pose the clin­ic.

“It’s not go­ing to be good for any­one,” said Domen­ick Par­ris, who co-owns $8 Buck Cuts, at 7912 Frank­ford Ave., with his wife Dawn.

“It will kill the neigh­bor­hood,” said Dan De­Palma, whose fam­ily owns a ven­er­able bakery on Dec­atur Street. ••

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You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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