Proposed drug clinic in Holmesburg draws fire at hearing

Posted: September 01, 2011

SEVERAL of the 130 residents of Holmesburg and nearby neighborhoods who packed a Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing yesterday shouted over speakers in vehement protest of a proposed methadone clinic for Frankford Avenue.

But Melissa Casey, who owns Guppies Childcare Center across the street from the clinic's possible location, at Frankford and Decatur Street, was in tears.

"This will absolutely destroy [my business]," she said.

Attorneys Dawn Tancredi and Phillip McFillin argued against the clinic, asserting that a C2 mixed-use commercial zoning permit - which The Healing Way clinic's owner obtained legally by applying to open a medical office - does not expressly permit methadone clinics.

"The intended use is different from the stated use," Tancredi told the board, which held the hearing at the Municipal Services Building. "Clinics are different by definition."

Tancredi and McFillin argued that if the "appropriate facts" were included in The Healing Way's application, the Department of Licenses & Inspections wouldn't have issued the permit.

Carl Primavera, who represented Healing Way owner Alan Yanovsky, argued that the clinic is a medical office and said that the nature of the office is irrelevant.

Primavera said that Yanovsky has worked in the medical field and wants to open the clinic because there is significant demand for treatment, but a dearth of places to get it.

L&I's Jeanne Klinger testified that according to the city's code, a methadone clinic is permitted under a C2 permit because it falls under the code's definition of a hospital or medical center.

Both McFillin and board member Lynette Brown-Sow expect that the matter will end up in court, but Primavera said he hopes that the clinic's opposition will back down before that.

"Anybody who messes around with this could be sued under federal law," he warned.

A decision is expected in two to three weeks. Whichever side loses will likely appeal, McFillin said.

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