City Council last week made it more difficult to open up a methadone clinic in the Northeast.
However, an ordinance introduced by Councilman Bobby Henon and Brian O’Neill doesn’t specifically target drug-treatment clinics, O’Neill told members of the Greater Bustleton Civic League on Nov. 20.
The measure, which was passed unanimously Nov. 21, requires any new medical practice in O’Neill’s 10th District or Henon’s 6th District to seek a zoning variance.
Zoning variances require community involvement, and Northeast residents have shown repeatedly that they don’t much care for drug-treatment facilities in their neighborhoods. Methadone clinics, which are facilities that provide treatment for heroin addicts, fall under the medical use category, and are not defined separately in the zoning code.
“Medical practices wouldn’t be allowed into commercial property unless they talk to the community,” O’Neill said.
The night before the Council vote, O’Neill told league members that medical practices in general can create some local issues.
“We are inundated with doctor’s offices, dentists offices,” he said. “There is a glut of them … and often, you’ll find very little parking to go with the traffic that comes in.”
The Philadelphia County Medical and Dental societies as well as the City Planning Commission opposed the measure.
“This legislation makes it more difficult and expensive for any new or expanding dental practice in Northeast Philadelphia,” Dr. Kevin Klatte, president of the dental society, testified before City Council on Nov. 12
“Perhaps, there are some type of medical facilities that are disruptive in the neighborhoods,” Klatte stated, “but we have never heard of anyone who didn’t want a dentist nearby.”
O’Neill and Henon introduced the bill that creates a “Northeast Zoning Overlay” on Oct. 24.
The bill bans the Medical, Dental and Health Practitioner use category in all commercial mixed-use (CMX) districts, the CA-1 and CA-2 auto-oriented commercial districts, and the IRMX, ICMX, I-1 and I-2 industrial districts. The measure allows those uses to be established by right only in I-3 heavy industrial and RMX-3 residential mixed-use districts. ull;•