By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter today vetoed a bill that bans new medical offices in the northeast section of the city unless the doctor gets a zoning variance. But City Council quickly overrode the veto.
The mayor vetoed the bill that would ban new doctors’ offices in the northeast because he said it would create a new hurdle for residents.
“The bill has the potential to adversely impact their access to health care and their choice of providers,” Nutter said.
But the measure’s chief sponsor, Councilman Brian O’Neill of the Far Northeast, said access in his district is not a problem:
“In Northeast Philly we’re inundated with all different kinds of medical practices, doctors, dentists. They come in all different sizes and shapes and bring all kinds of traffic. We’re not dealing in the 1950s, where a doctor lived in his house and had his practice in his living room. It’s different,” O’Neill said.
And with that, Council overrode the mayor’s veto by a 16-1 vote. This means that new medical offices in O’Neill’s district, as well as the Lower Northeast district represented by fellow councilman Bobby Henon, would first need a zoning variance to open.
“High standards start with the community, and having the community’s involvement and participation of what goes in their neighborhoods,” Henon said.
But Nutter argues that it will be difficult for most medical practices to meet the burden of proof of hardship needed to obtain a variance.
O’Neill and Henon deny speculation by opponents that the bill is actually aimed at preventing methadone clinics in their districts.