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Battle heats up over zoning for methadone clinic

A proposal to open up a methadone clinic on Frankford Avenue in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania, has proved controversial. Opponents included residents whose property neighbored on the proposed site. They attempted to use zoning laws to prevent the operation of the methadone clinic. The fight over the proposal has been going on now for approximately two years.

In 2012, the local Zoning Board of Adjustment took a vote that effectively revoked a needed permit for the facility, agreeing with clinic opponents the property was not properly zoned for the proposed use. A state court judge most recently reversed that decision, finding the zoning ruling in error. Despite that, local residents opposed to the drug clinic indicated they will seek a further appeal to a higher court in ongoing efforts to keep the methadone clinic from ever opening.

They pointed to the fact there is no specific definition of methadone clinic in the zoning law, and they warned that having such a use encompassed within the common generic business zoning applicable to such uses as doctor's offices or hair salons could effectively permit methadone clinics to be opened in almost any neighborhood.

Opponents also focused on the lack of adequate parking for the clinic's expected patients, and the presence of two other existing methadone clinics in the general area. This, they contend, makes the need for an additional one at the proposed site questionable.

The complexity of the battle and the length of time required for resolution point to the need for either proponents or opponents of a proposed controversial use of property to retain experienced and knowledgeable zoning law attorneys. This will allow both sides to have their positions represented to local zoning authorities, and, if need be, the courts.

Philly.com, "Opponents vow to appeal ruling on Northeast methadone clinic" Morgan Zalot, Jun. 26, 2013

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