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

3/19/2014 | Real Estate Blog

In our last post, we talked about a neighborhood group’s objections to a group home opening in their area. Today, we have a similar story about a neighborhood that is wary of a hospital’s plans for an abandoned building.

Kensington Hospital’s plan to expand its methadone treatment services has hit a nerve with the East Kensington Neighbors Association. The current facility, located at the hospital, has a maximum capacity of 160 patients. The proposed facility, down the road on the corner of Front and Diamond streets, would almost double that to 300.

While a representative from the center says it is unlikely that the facility will ever hit the 300 mark, the number is enough to give the neighbors pause. EKNA has taken its objections to the zoning board.

To open the treatment center in the abandoned building, Kensington Hospital needed the board’s approval of a special exception and a minor variance. The board approved the request but added a condition: EKNA must be included in a partnership agreement made between Kensington Hospital and another community organization, the Norris Square Civic Association. Unlike the neighborhood group, the NSCA supports the methadone treatment facility.

EKNA would rather fight than switch, according to local news reports. The organization recently filed an appeal of the zoning board’s decision. The group’s primary argument is technical: The hospital fell short of the legal standard required for the board to approve the exceptions.

As we have said before, zoning is a delicate business, both a science and an art. Philadelphia has wrangled with its zoning code for several years now, and in some cases it’s looked as if the code has won. We’ll explain more next week.

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