Fight continues over planned methadone clinic

Attorneys involved in the debate over the proposed methadone clinic in Holmesburg are preparing their case for the upcoming court appeal.

Meanwhile, some neighbors want the planned operator to know that their opposition is as fierce as ever.

A rally against the clinic, to be operated by The Healing Way, will take place on Thursday, July 19, at 6 p.m. outside the proposed facility, at 7900 Frankford Ave. (at Decatur Street).

Meanwhile, The Healing Way must file its record — the transcript of the case and the findings of fact — with the city office of the prothonotary by Aug. 6.

By Sept. 4, the agency must file its brief with the court. Attorneys for neighbors have until Oct. 1 to file their brief.

Oral arguments on the legal merits of the appeal will be heard on Nov. 5 in the City Hall courtroom of Common Pleas Court Judge Idee C. Fox.

The Healing Way has wanted to open since the beginning of 2011. The organization renovated the space that once housed the Last Call, which closed in 2008 after a shooting outside the bar.

The city Department of Licenses and Inspections issued permits for the overhaul, but neighbors appealed that decision to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The hearing took place last August, but it took more than six months for the ZBA to rule. The board revoked the permits issued by L&I, delighting elected officials and members of the Holmesburg and Mayfair civic associations.

Neighbors have complained that the site has no parking and is too close to schools, churches, residences, a public library and day-care centers.

However, The Healing Way believes it has the right to open.

The property is zoned C-2, which allows for commercial activity such as a medical office as long as there are no overnight stays.

In addition, a federal court in 2007 ruled that a 1999 state law prohibiting methadone clinics from opening within 500 feet of a school, playground, church, park, house or child-care center was unconstitutional because it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The clinic would operate in 4,830 square feet of space and cater to 200 clients per day. Methadone is used to wean people off drugs and is usually administered in a powerful liquid form.

At last summer’s hearing, proposed clinic operator Alan Yanovsty testified that he had made $150,000 in improvements to the site. He is renting the location from the owner of a real estate company that also has office space there.

Even if The Healing Way ultimately wins its appeal, it would need state and federal approval to open.

Among those expected to speak at the rally are Dawn Tancredi and Phil McFillin, attorneys for the neighbors. ••