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. ••