Methadone clinic opponents to hold public meeting

Op­pon­ents of a pro­posed meth­adone clin­ic at Frank­ford Av­en­ue and Dec­atur Street in Holmes­burg will hold a pub­lic meet­ing on Tues­day, Ju­ly 16, at 6 p.m. at Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School.

The meet­ing fol­lows last month’s rul­ing by Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Idee C. Fox, who sus­tained an ap­peal of a Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment de­cision, en­abling The Heal­ing Way to open a meth­adone clin­ic, as­sum­ing it can ob­tain per­mits from the state De­part­ment of Health.

At­tor­neys Dawn Tan­credi and Phil Mc­Fil­lin, who rep­res­ent neigh­bors op­posed to the clin­ic, im­me­di­ately vowed to ap­peal the judge’s de­cision.

Clin­ic op­pon­ents in­clude the Holmes­burg, May­fair, Holme Circle and Ta­cony civic as­so­ci­ations; the May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation; the May­fair Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion; the May­fair and Ta­cony/Holmes­burg Town Watch groups; and City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on, state Reps. Kev­in Boyle and John Taylor, state Sen. Mike Stack and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing, to say the least,” Hen­on said of the judge’s rul­ing on the clin­ic. “Nobody wants it. It doesn’t con­form with the loc­al busi­ness plan there. It’s a com­mer­cial cor­ridor.”

The Heal­ing Way wants to open a clin­ic in a first-floor ten­ant space at 7900-04 Frank­ford Ave. The fa­cil­ity would dis­pense meth­adone, which is used to wean ad­dicts off drugs. It is usu­ally ad­min­istered in li­quid form.

The fight over the clin­ic dates to Janu­ary 2011, when the city De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions is­sued a use per­mit for the Frank­ford Av­en­ue site, and THW ob­tained build­ing per­mits for in­teri­or al­ter­a­tions of the 4,830-square-foot prop­erty.

Neigh­bors ap­pealed L&I’s is­su­ance of the per­mit.

The zon­ing board heard the ap­peal in Au­gust 2011, but did not is­sue a rul­ing un­til March 2012. The board de­term­ined by a 4-1 vote that a meth­adone clin­ic  —  un­like a med­ic­al of­fice, hos­pit­al or med­ic­al cen­ter —  is not a per­mit­ted use of a prop­erty that is zoned C-2.

The Heal­ing Way ap­pealed that rul­ing to Com­mon Pleas Court, and Fox heard ar­gu­ments in Decem­ber 2012. A city law­yer sided with THW at the hear­ing.

In her June 19 writ­ten opin­ion, the judge de­term­ined that a meth­adone clin­ic is a per­mit­ted use of a C-2 prop­erty, and that the zon­ing board was wrong to rule oth­er­wise. Thus, THW can seek per­mits from the state Health De­part­ment.

“The state should not con­sider the ap­plic­a­tion of The Heal­ing Way while there is still an out­stand­ing zon­ing is­sue,” Boyle said.

Neigh­bors op­posed to the clin­ic fear loiter­ing, a de­cline in prop­erty val­ues and a fin­an­cial harm to ex­ist­ing busi­nesses and vow to con­tin­ue to fight against it.

“This is not the end in any way,” Boyle said. “The fight goes on against this.”

The prop­erty that The Heal­ing Way wants to use has been va­cant since 2008, when the Last Call bar closed after a shoot­ing out­side the es­tab­lish­ment. The clin­ic would op­er­ate daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and would serve about 200 pa­tients per day.

The court rul­ing is the second re­cent vic­tory for meth­adone clin­ic op­er­at­ors. In April, the zon­ing board ap­proved a bid by North­East Treat­ment Cen­ters to open a clin­ic at 7520 State Road. The May­fair and Holmes­burg civic as­so­ci­ations, along with some State Road busi­nesses, op­pose the fa­cil­ity. At­tor­ney Frank Ben­nett will take the com­munity’s ap­peal to Com­mon Pleas Court. ••

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