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Nutter vetoes bill that adds zoning hurdle for NE Philly medical offices

UPDATE: Council voted 16-1 to override Nutter's veto. The dissenter was Councilman Bill Green, who voted for the bill the first time around.

Green said that although he still doesn't have a problem with the variance requirement, he changed his vote because he believes such a policy should be applied citywide.


Mayor Nutter has vetoed a bill by Councilmen Brian O'Neill and Bobby Henon that would require new doctors and dentists offices to get a zoning variance before opening in their Northeast Philly districts.

"This Bill effectively bans the establishment or expansion of medical, dental, or other health practices as of right in these districts," Nutter wrote in his veto letter. "At a time when access to healthcare should be expanding for all Americans, this Bill carves out two Councilmanic districts where that evolution toward a better, healthier society will face an undue hurdle in the form of zoning rules that are exclusionary in nature."

The bill was attacked for being a thinly veiled attempt to keep methadone clinics out of those districts. Nutter's letter did not mention the clinics but appeared to reference the issue.

"If there is a particular concern about a specific practice, or an objectionable characteristic common to medical, dental, or other health practices, it should be dealt with using precise and generally-applicable rules; not by means of an exclusionary ban of healthcare practices - small businesses that no one would argue are anything but appropriate and essential," Nutter wrote.

The bill passed unanimously, so Henon and O'Neill will likely be able to override the veto.

This post will be updated.