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Residents still opposing methadone clinic despite zoning ok

Residents in the Northeast portion of Philadelphia are continuing a campaign of opposition to the opening of a methadone clinic on Frankford Avenue, despite the fact that the clinic operators have both obtained a lease and won zoning approval for the project. The for-profit facility, to be called "Healing Way," would occupy commercial real estate that was previously empty after a bar that operated at the location shut down.

The bar had already been closed for over two years when a commercial zoning permit for the methadone clinic project was issued. The building contains 4,830 square feet of space. Fearing negative secondary consequences in the neighborhood from the clinic's patients, residents have held off its opening with protests and meetings.

By its nature, a methadone facility attracts patients with a drug problem. A number of neighborhood groups joined individuals in opposing the opening of the facility. While a zoning board initially ruled by 4-1 that the C2 permit had been mistakenly issued, a court later reinstated the permit. A further appeal by neighbors of the clinic to a higher court is now underway.

Even those who oppose the clinic tend to acknowledge that providing treatment for those with drug difficulties is a worthy goal. They state, however, that they only oppose the specific location selected for the clinic's operation. Clearly, the case indicates that shepherding a controversial commercial project through the labyrinth of needed approvals to successful opening requires both highly knowledgeable legal skills and an aspect of public relations, particularly in a generally residential neighborhood.

Source: Philadelphia Weekly, "Can Northeast Philly residents really stop a Frankfort Avenue methadone clinic from opening?" Randy LoBasso, Sep. 27, 2013

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