New Northeast medical practices must now seek zoning variances

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;•

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