Northeast Times

Agreement reached in methadone clinic clash

The Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation and some State Road busi­nesses have entered in­to an agree­ment with North­East Treat­ment Cen­ters that will al­low for a meth­adone clin­ic to open in the neigh­bor­hood. The agree­ment fol­lows a re­cent court vic­tory by NET, which plans to open a clin­ic at 7520 and 7550 State Road.

A Com­mon Pleas Court judge denied an ap­peal of a Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment de­cision per­mit­ting the clin­ic. 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. However, op­pon­ents dir­ec­ted Ben­nett to drop plans for an ap­peal.

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, op­posed the clin­ic. Now, however, a “NET State Road Good Neigh­bor Agree­ment” has been reached.

The agree­ment re­quires NET to be ac­cess­ible dur­ing op­er­at­ing hours, es­tab­lish a hot­line and to be in­volved in civic as­so­ci­ation meet­ings. The agency must also have com­mu­nic­a­tion with New Found­a­tions Charter School and St. Hubert High School. And it must keep its prop­erty and side­walks clean.

Staffers must mon­it­or se­cur­ity cam­er­as dur­ing all hours of op­er­a­tion, and med­ic­a­tion can­not be provided from 3 to 4:30 p.m., when schools are dis­miss­ing.

NET must give pref­er­ence to neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents and busi­nesses for em­ploy­ment and vendor op­por­tun­it­ies.

An eight-mem­ber NET State Road Ad­vis­ory Com­mit­tee will ad­dress is­sues such as park­ing, se­cur­ity, hours of op­er­a­tion and wait­ing room ca­pa­city. It’ll meet at least quarterly and be co-chaired by NET’s pres­id­ent/CEO and the pres­id­ent of the Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation.

The agree­ment was reached by the civic as­so­ci­ation ex­ec­ut­ive board and NET CEO Regan Kelly. Lisa Dee­ley, an aide to City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on, fa­cil­it­ated the agree­ment. Rich Frizell, pres­id­ent of the civic as­so­ci­ation, said the group was thank­ful for the sup­port of Hen­on, state Sen. Mike Stack, at­tor­ney Frank Ben­nett, busi­ness people Larry Ger­shel and Brooke and Jim Hig­gins, and the 637 people who signed a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing the clin­ic. 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. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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