City Councilman Bobby Henon has pledged to cover the cost of the initial phase of the community’s appeal seeking to bar a methadone clinic from opening on the Frankford Avenue commercial corridor, asking that they “send me a bill.”
The Healing Way, which wants to open the clinic at Frankford Avenue and Decatur Street, earlier this month won a big court victory when a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel rejected an appeal by neighbors opposed to the proposed operation. The state court affirmed an earlier ruling by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, which OK’d the clinic.
The appellants must now file a Petition for Allowance of Appeal, the first in a series of steps in hopes the case will be heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“I absolutely support providing access to safe, responsible treatment for drug addiction,” Henon said. “The key word is ‘responsible.’ The Healing Way has proposed to situate in the middle of a thriving commercial corridor, next to schools and daycare centers in a community united in opposition.
ldquo;We’re a community of fighters and we have to keep fighting. “I’ve been working with [the community] on this since before I was elected, but we need to keep going. Stay organized, keep knocking on doors and keep up the pressure.”
Although Henon will help fund the appeal, clinic foes — which include the Mayfair and Holmesburg civic associations, the Mayfair Business Association and the Mayfair Community Development Corporation — also are trying to raise money so an attorney from Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell and Hippel can appeal to the state’s highest court.
The Healing Way must obtain permits from the Pennsylvania Health Department before opening a facility that would dispense methadone, a drug that is used to help addicts kick the habit. It is usually administered in liquid form. The clinic would operate daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and would serve about 200 patients per day.
Neighbors opposed to the clinic worry about loitering, a decrease in property values, an increase in traffic, a lack of parking and a negative impact on existing businesses. In addition, they point to the clinic’s proximity to day care centers, schools, dance studios and churches.
The fight over the clinic dates to January 2011, when the city Department of Licenses and Inspections issued a use permit for 7900-04 Frankford Ave., 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 of Adjustment heard the appeals in August 2011, then ruled in March 2012 in 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 Judge Idee Fox heard arguments in December 2012. A city lawyer sided with THW at the hearing.
In her written opinion, Fox determined that a methadone clinic is a permitted use of a C-2 property, and that the zoning board was wrong in its ruling.
The Healing Way wants to move into a property that has been vacant since 2008. The Last Call closed that year after a shooting outside the bar. ••