Somerton OKs urgent care center, home project

The Somerton Civic Association gave its approval to a new urgent care center and a home construction project during the community group’s monthly meeting on Jan. 12 at the Walker Lodge on Southampton Road.

Members voted unanimously, 49–0, to support a proposal by Premier Urgent Care to open its first Philadelphia location in an existing commercial property at 10050 Roosevelt Blvd. The building is connected to the rear of the Dunkin’ Donuts on the west side of the Boulevard just north of Red Lion Road.

Brett Feldman, the attorney for the landlord, said that Premier has 19 locations in the Delaware Valley, but the Somerton site would be its first in the city. The property owner plans to make $1 million in improvements to the property, although the footprint of the building will remain the same. Dunkin’ Donuts will stay as a tenant.

Feldman said the urgent care center will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Parking is on site. Three to five staff members will occupy the center at a time.

Although the proposed use of the site is generally included in its existing zoning classification, the property is within a zoning overlay that requires special Zoning Board approval for any medical use. The overlay was created to give the community greater leverage in challenging the creation of new drug treatment clinics that prescribe methadone and other narcotics. According to Feldman and SCA President Seth Kaplan, the owners of the center confirmed prior to the civic meeting that they would enter into an agreement not to distribute methadone.

A managing physician told neighbors at the meeting that the center would keep minimal narcotics of any kind on site, such as medications for patients with acute pain symptoms. As a practice, the center will not dispense medications, although physicians there will write small quantity prescriptions.

The center will not be a “pain clinic,” the doctor said. It will be an alternative to a hospital emergency room for patients with non-life-threatening injuries, such as minor breaks, sprains and cuts. The applicants did not discuss a target opening date.

In a separate zoning case, SCA members voted 42–5 to approve a variance application that would allow a developer to build two sets of twin homes (four units total) on the southeast corner of Southampton Road and Damar Drive. The existing property at 1284 Southampton Road would be subdivided into four lots, with one lot remaining vacant for potential future development.

Steve Pollock, the attorney for the landowner, said that the four developed lots would each be about 40 feet wide and 100 feet deep, allowing for 24-foot-wide homes and 15-foot side yards. The existing tract is zoned for industrial use but is directly across the street from a longer row of twin homes. The land has been unoccupied for years and abuts the Walker Lodge side yard.

Some neighbors expressed concerns about added motor traffic in an already congested area. A Walker Lodge officer sought assurances that the new neighbors would not use lodge property as an extension of their own backyards. Pollock said that the builder could erect a fence to separate the properties.

Residents heard several other presentations at the meeting:

• State Rep. Martina White reported that Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1640 to release funding for state agencies, schools and human services organizations, but a complete state budget is still being debated and negotiated in Harrisburg. As of Jan. 1, the budget was six months late and counting.

White also reported that Wolf had signed a bill to prevent welfare recipients from collecting in two different states at the same time. White is further

planning to introduce a bill to have a Parkwood street named after fallen Philadelphia Fire Battalion Chief Michael R. Goodwin.

• David Dibelius, a state committee chairman for the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, invited veterans to contact him to join the VFW or for help with the Veterans Administration and disability claims. A VFW representative is available for walk-in consultation on the first Monday of each month during business hours at Rep. White’s office, 10752 Bustleton Ave. Dibelius is also available by appointment. Contact him by email at PAVFWRider@comcast.net.

• Joe Maio of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue invited seniors to apply for discount programs offered by the city. Senior residents may be eligible for a water bill discount, a property tax freeze or property tax installment payment program, based on the applicant’s income level. Contact 215–686–6880 for water revenue questions or 215–686–6442 for real estate revenue questions. Applications are available on the phila.gov/revenue website.

• Capt. Michael Gormley of the 7th Police District reported that crime has been relatively low in the Somerton area within the previous month, although several businesses were robbed, including a Wawa, a pop-up Christmas tree stand, a 7-Eleven and a SuperCuts. In addition, the area has seen a slight increase in thefts from autos, while the Philmont Heights area had several home burglaries. ••