The owners of a proposed methadone clinic on State Road in Holmesburg last week won a big court ruling.
Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Green-Ceisler denied an appeal of a Zoning Board of Adjustment decision permitting a methadone clinic planned for 7520 and 7550 State Road.
Frank Bennett, the pro bono lawyer representing the Holmesburg Civic Association and others in opposition to the clinic, vowed to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Steve Pollock, of the Zarwin Baum law firm, represents NorthEast Treatment Centers, which hopes to open a clinic.
Last April, the ZBA voted 4-1 to grant a use variance to NET to open a clinic to serve residents of the 19111, 19114, 19115, 19116 and 19136 ZIP codes.
The site would be open seven days a week, from 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Up to 375 people per day would receive liquid methadone, which is used to wean addicts off drugs.
The Upper Holmesburg and Mayfair civic associations, along with some elected officials and State Road businesses, oppose the clinic.
Green-Ceisler heard oral arguments from Bennett and Pollock on Jan. 15 in a City Hall courtroom. Bennett presented supplemental testimony.
At the hearing, there were representatives of state Sen. Mike Stack and City Councilmen Bobby Henon and David Oh.
Bennett argued that the site is in an industrial area.
Pollock countered that a variance should be issued, noting that the property owner hired three brokers to market the site to industrial companies with no success. He added that Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, a leading opponent of the clinic, received a variance to open.
Pollock told the court that there is a large buffer zone between the site and the closest houses.
Bennett said the ZBA erred in ignoring the wishes of residents, civic associations and elected officials.
NET originally planned to open a clinic at Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard. But, after 1,500 people turned out at a meeting in February 2009 to oppose the proposal, the city withdrew its support.
The city supports NET’s current bid.
The NET clinic is unrelated to an attempt by The Healing Way to open a methadone clinic at Frankford Avenue and Decatur Street. Last June, Common Pleas Court Judge Idee C. Fox sustained an appeal of a ZBA decision, allowing the clinic to open. Neighbors opposed to the clinic are appealing that ruling. The city also supports the opening of that clinic. ••