Skip to Content

News & Resources

Hospital’s plan for methadone clinic takes a hit from neighbors p3

3/30/2014 | Real Estate Blog

We are finishing up our discussion of the dispute simmering between the East Kensington Neighbors Association, Kensington Hospital and the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment. The hospital is planning to move its methadone clinic down the road to an abandoned building. Before the project could move forward, the hospital needed to run a couple of things past the board.

After the board approved the hospital’s request for a special exception and a variance, EKNA filed an appeal of the decision. The neighborhood group is relying on the difference between an application for a special exception and an application for a variance.

As we explained in our last post, an applicant for a special exception must persuade the board that the requested change will not harm the neighborhood. A variance, however, turns the argument back to the needs of the business rather than the impact on the community. The applicant must prove that the existing zoning causes the applicant undue hardship. It is a higher hurdle than applicants for exceptions must jump.

The hospital asked the zoning board for a special exception to operate the clinic, which is classified as a medical office, in a district not zoned for medical offices. The variance was needed for a small portion of the building (part of the elevators) to exceed the zoning district’s height limit.

According to EKNA, the hospital failed in its arguments about the special exception. Specifically, the hospital failed to prove that the proposed use would not harm the neighborhood. If the clinic treats 300 clients every day — the new facilities maxes out at 300 per day — the added traffic and the influx of addicts would, indeed, burden the neighborhood.

Source:, “Neighbors act to block Kensington methadone clinic,” Jared Brey (PlanPhilly), March 17, 2014