Councilman Bobby Henon announced that he will personally finance the “initial phase” of a legal appeal of a Commonwealth Court decision that would allow a methadone clinic operated by The Healing Way to open on Frankford Avenue in Holmesburg.
The Commonwealth Court ruling, which was issued earlier this year, affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the zoning board inappropriately denied a permit for the methadone clinic to open. Holmesburg residents have been fighting to keep the clinic from opening for years.
The Court’s decision was not equivocal. Three judges wrote that they found “no merit” in the community’s legal arguments.
Drug addiction is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and municipalities are not allowed to regulate addiction-treatment centers differently from other types of medical uses. Last year, Councilman Henon and Councilman Brian O’Neill passed a bill that prohibits all new medical offices from opening in Northeast Philadelphia without getting a variance from the zoning board.
Councilman Henon has complained that The Healing Way has been unresponsive to community concerns. NorthEast Treatment Centers (NET) recently reached an agreement with the Holmesburg Civic Association, which agreed to drop its opposition to a different facility in exchange for promises of open communication with community members and offering non-methadone services.
Rich Frizell, the president of Holmesburg Civic Association, said that Henon had pledged $20,000 to file the appeal to the state Supreme Court. He said he hopes the state will not issue a license to the clinic while an appeal is pending.
A spokesman for Councilman Henon said that his contribution to the appeal of The Healing Way plan will be paid for without any campaign or taxpayer funds. See Henon’s full statement below.
Councilman Bobby Henon to Support Holmesburg Community in Methadone Clinic Fight
Philadelphia – Councilman Bobby Henon has pledged to cover the cost of the initial phase of the Holmesburg community’s appeal seeking to bar a methadone clinic from opening on the Frankford Ave. commercial corridor, asking that they “send me a bill.”
The community’s appeal to the Commonwealth Court against the proposed Healing Way methadone clinic was denied recently, with the three-judge panel finding “no merit” in the neighbors’ legal claims. The appellants must now file a Petition for Allowance of Appeal, the first in a series of steps in the case being heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“I absolutely support providing access to safe, responsible treatment for drug addiction,” Henon continued. “The keyword is responsible. The Healing Way has proposed to situate in the middle of a thriving commercial corridor, next to schools and daycare centers in a community united in opposition.”
Henon cautioned the community to not rest on its laurels, but that they take on the issue with a renewed sense of purpose.
“We’re a community of fighters and we have to keep fighting,” Councilman Henon said. “I’ve been working with you (the community) on this since before I was elected, but we need to keep going. Stay organized, keep knocking on doors and keep up the pressure.”
The current fight against the Healing Way continues while another treatment facility, the NET Center, a model for responsible treatment, has worked with Councilman Henon and the community to open less than a mile away.
Jared Brey writes about development, zoning policy, and city government for PlanPhilly.com. He wasn't interested in being a reporter until halfway through a master's program in journalism at Temple University that he intended to parlay into an academic career. His work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, City Paper, Business Journal, and Metropolis.